Hundreds gather on the Pine Ridge Reservation in the rain Wednesday to honor former American Movement Activist Russell Means. To many Native Americans, the rainfall was seen as a blessing and a great sendoff for a man who sacrificed so much for American Indians on reservations across KOTA Territory.
"Crazy Horse and a thousand warriors are going to take him home," said Chief Black Spotted Horse, Means' uncle. "There's going to be a thousand horses but only one horse with no rider. That's for him."
People from across the nation gathered at little wound school in Kyle, South Dakota to pay their respects to Means. His cremated remains were brought in by honor riders.
"We lost our beloved leader," said Leroy Lemos, a Colorado American Indian Movement activist and Means' security guard of 25 years.
The former activist lost his battle to throat cancer Monday. Now gone, many in the Native American community says it's now up to them to carry on means' legacy and everything he stood and fought for.
"Russell means showed by example, effective leadership and what it meant to be a freedom fighter and stand on the side of the people, no matter what," said Lemos.
"Our people have always been on the bottom, always almost forgotten but Russell helped to keep that alive by saying we're still here, we're still here," said Chief Black Spotted Horse.
Now, AIM members say it's time for the youth to carry means' baton.
"We'd be letting Russell Means down if we didn't move our communities to the next level," Lemos said.
A task that begins today by honoring a man many say gave so much to bring light to the Native American plight.
"I'm very proud of that, I'm very proud of him and I show the world and say this is my nephew, he's done a great job, a great job," said his Uncle.
Three other ceremonies are planned: one at Wounded Knee Memorial February, 2013; Wind Cave National Park June, 2013; and on Means' birthday November 10, 2013.