** Russell Means (1980): “For America to Live, Europe Must Die”


Richard Moore

Caucasians have a more positive vision to offer humanity than European culture. 
I believe this. But in order to attain this vision it is necessary for 
Caucasians to step outside European culture-alongside the rest of humanity-to 
see Europe for what it is and what it does.

There is also some confusion about the word Indian, a mistaken belief that it 
refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in 
the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were 
calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus 
called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in 



"For America to Live, Europe Must Die"

By Russell Means

The following speech was given by Russell Means in July 1980, before several 
thousand people who had assembled from all over the world for the Black Hills 
International Survival Gathering, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is 
Russell Means' most famous speech.

11/01/08 "ICH" -- -- The only possible opening for a statement of this kind is 
that I detest writing. The process itself epitomizes the European concept of 
"legitimate" thinking; what is written has an importance that is denied the 
spoken. My culture, the Lakota culture, has an oral tradition, so I ordinarily 
reject writing. It is one of the white world's ways of destroying the cultures 
of non-European peoples, the imposing of an abstraction over the spoken 
relationship of a people.

So what you read here is not what I've written. It's what I've said and someone 
else has written down. I will allow this because it seems that the only way to 
communicate with the white world is through the dead, dry leaves of a book. I 
don't really care whether my words reach whites or not. They have already 
demonstrated through their history that they cannot hear, cannot see; they can 
only read (of course, there are exceptions, but the exceptions only prove the 
rule). I'm more concerned with American Indian people, students and others, who 
have begun to be absorbed into the white world through universities and other 
institutions. But even then it's a marginal sort of concern. It's very possible 
to grow into a red face with a white mind; and if that's a person's individual 
choice, so be it, but I have no use for them. This is part of the process of 
cultural genocide being waged by Europeans against American Indian peoples' 
today. My concern is with those American Indians who choose to resist this 
genocide, but who may be confused as to how to proceed.

(You notice I use the term American Indian rather than Native American or Native
indigenous people or Amerindian when referring to my people. There has been some
controversy about such terms, and frankly, at this point. I find it absurd. 
Primarily it seems that American Indian is being rejected as European in 
origin-which is true. But all the above terms are European in origin; the only 
non-European way is to speak of Lakota-or, more precisely, of Oglala, Brule, 
etc.-and of the Dineh, the Miccousukee, and all the rest of the several hundred 
correct tribal names.

(There is also some confusion about the word Indian, a mistaken belief that it 
refers somehow to the country, India. When Columbus washed up on the beach in 
the Caribbean, he was not looking for a country called India. Europeans were 
calling that country Hindustan in 1492. Look it up on the old maps. Columbus 
called the tribal people he met "Indio," from the Italian in dio, meaning "in 

It takes a strong effort on the part of each American Indian not to become 

The strength for this effort can only come from the traditional ways, the 
traditional values that our elders retain. It must come from the hoop, the four 
directions, the relations: it cannot come from the pages of a book or a thousand
books. No European can ever teach a Lakota to be Lakota, a Hopi to be Hopi. A 
master's degree in "Indian Studies" or in "education" or in anything else cannot
make a person into a human being or provide knowledge into traditional ways. It 
can only make you into a mental European, an outsider.

I should be clear about something here, because there seems to be some confusion
about it. When I speak of Europeans or mental Europeans, I'm not allowing for 
false distinctions. I'm not saying that on the one hand there are the 
by-products of a few thousand years of genocidal, reactionary. European 
intellectual development which is bad; and on the other hand there is some new 
revolutionary intellectual development which is good. I'm referring here to the 
so-called theories of Marxism and anarchism and "leftism" in general. I don't 
believe these theories can be separated from the rest of the of the European 
intellectual tradition. It's really just the same old song.

The process began much earlier. Newton, for example, "revolutionized" physics 
and the so-called natural sciences by reducing the physical universe to a linear
mathematical equation. Descartes did the same thing with culture. John Locke did
it with politics, and Adam Smith did it with economics. Each one of these 
"thinkers" took a piece of the spirituality of human existence and converted it 
into code, an abstraction. They picked up where Christianity ended: they 
"secularized" Christian religion, as the "scholars" like to say- and in doing so
they made Europe more able and ready to act as an expansionist culture. Each of 
these intellectual revolutions served to abstract the European mentality even 
further, to remove the wonderful complexity and spirituality from the universe 
and replace it with a logical sequence: one, two, three. Answer!

This is what has come to be termed "efficiency" in the European mind. Whatever 
is mechanical is perfect; whatever seems to work at the moment- that is, proves 
the mechanical model to be the right one- is considered correct, even when it is
clearly untrue. This is why "truth" changes so fast in the European mind; the 
answers which result from such a process are only stopgaps, only temporary, and 
must be continuously discarded in favor of new stopgaps which support the 
mechanical models and keep them (the models) alive.

Hegel and Marx were heirs to the thinking of Newton, Descartes, Locke and Smith.
Hegel finished the process of secularizing theology- and that is put in his own 
terms- he secularized the religious thinking through which Europe understood the
universe. Then Marx put Hegel's philosophy in terms of "materialism," which is 
to say that Marx despiritualized Hegel's work altogether. Again, this is in 
Marx' own terms. And this is now seen as the future revolutionary potential of 
Europe. Europeans may see this as revolutionary, but American Indians see it 
simply as still more of that same old European conflict between being and 
gaining. The intellectual roots of a new Marxist form of European imperialism 
lie in Marx'- and his followers'- links to the tradition of Newton, Hegel and 
the others.

Being is a spiritual proposition. Gaining is a material act. Traditionally, 
American Indians have always attempted to be the best people they could. Part of
that spiritual process was and is to give away wealth, to discard wealth in 
order not to gain. Material gain is an indicator of false status among 
traditional people, while it is "proof that the system works" to Europeans. 
Clearly, there are two completely opposing views at issue here, and Marxism is 
very far over to the other side from the American Indian view. But let's look at
a major implication of this; it is not merely an intellectual debate.

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very 
similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And 
who seems most expert at dehumanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have 
seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into 
combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it
to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the 
workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to 
everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the 
dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other 
people. One of the Christian commandments says, "Thou shalt not kill," at least 
not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then
you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue.

In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so 
that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and 
development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are to 
justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real-estate 
speculator may refer to "developing" a parcel of ground by opening a gravel 
quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth 
itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which 
more land can be "developed" through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, 
the whole universe is open- in the European view- to this sort of insanity.

Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans feel no sense of loss 
in all this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so 
there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder 
of a mountain or a lake or a people in being. No, satisfaction is measured in 
terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes 
coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the 
indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools.

But each new piece of that "progress" ups the ante out in the real world. Take 
fuel for the industrial machine as an example. Little more than two centuries 
ago, nearly everyone used wood- a replenishable, natural item- as fuel for the 
very human needs of cooking and staying warm. Along came the Industrial 
Revolution and coal became the dominant fuel, as production became the social 
imperative for Europe. Pollution began to become a problem in the cities, and 
the earth was ripped open to provide coal whereas wood had always simply been 
gathered or harvested at no great expense to the environment. Later, oil became 
the major fuel, as the technology of production was perfected through a series 
of scientific "revolutions." Pollution increased dramatically, and nobody yet 
knows what the environmental costs of pumping all that oil out of the ground 
will really be in the long run. Now there's an "energy crisis," and uranium is 
becoming the dominant fuel.

Capitalists, at least, can be relied upon to develop uranium as fuel only at the
rate which they can show a good profit. That's there ethic, and maybe they will 
buy some time. Marxists, on the other hand, can be relied upon to develop 
uranium fuel as rapidly as possible simply because it's the most "efficient" 
production fuel available. That's their ethic, and I fail to see where it's 
preferable. Like I said, Marxism is right smack in the middle of European 
tradition. It's the same old song.

There's a rule of thumb which can be applied here. You cannot judge the real 
nature of a European revolutionary doctrine on the basis of the changes it 
proposes to make within the European power structure and society. You can only 
judge it by the effects it will have on non-European peoples. This is because 
every revolution in European history has served to reinforce Europe's tendencies
and abilities to export destruction to other peoples, other cultures and the 
environment itself. I defy anyone to point out an example where this is not 

So now we, as American Indian people, are asked to believe that a "new" European
revolutionary doctrine such as Marxism will reverse the negative effects of 
European history on us. European power relations are to be adjusted once again, 
and that's supposed to make things better for all of us. But what does this 
really mean?

Right now, today, we who live on the Pine Ridge Reservation are living in what 
white society has designated a " National Sacrifice Area." What this means is 
that we have a lot of uranium deposits here, and white culture (not us) needs 
this uranium as energy production material. The cheapest, most efficient way for
industry to extract and deal with the processing of this uranium is to dump the 
waste by-products right here at the digging sites. Right here where we live. 
This waste is radioactive and will make the entire region uninhabitable forever.
This is considered by the industry, and by the white society that created this 
industry, to be an "acceptable" price to pay for energy resource development. 
Along the way they also plan to drain the water table under this part of South 
Dakota as part of the industrial process, so the region becomes doubly 
uninhabitable. The same sort of thing is happening down in the land of the 
Navajo and Hopi, up in the land of the Northern Cheyenne and Crow, and 
elsewhere. Thirty percent of the coal in the West and half of the uranium 
deposits in the United States have been found to lie under reservation land, so 
there is no way this can be called a minor issue.

We are resisting being turned into National Sacrifice Area. We are resisting 
being turned into a national sacrifice people. The costs of this industrial 
process are not acceptable to us. It is genocide to dig uranium here and drain 
the water table- no more, no less.

Now let's suppose that in our resistance to extermination we begin to seek 
allies (we have). Let's suppose further that we were to take revolutionary 
Marxism at it's word: that it intends nothing less than the complete overthrow 
of the European capitalists order which has presented this threat to our very 
existence. This would seem to be a natural alliance for American Indian people 
to enter into. After all, as the Marxists say, it is the capitalists who set us 
up to be a national sacrifice. This is true as far as it goes.

But, as I've tried to point out, this "truth" is very deceptive. Revolutionary 
Marxism is committed to even further perpetuation and perfection of the very 
industrial process which is destroying us all. It offers only to " redistribute"
the results- the money, maybe- of this industrialization to a wider section of 
the population. It offers to take wealth from the capitalists and pass it 
around; but in order to do so, Marxism must maintain the industrial system. Once
again, the power relations within European society will have to be altered, but 
once again the effects upon American Indian peoples here and non-Europeans 
elsewhere will remain the same. This is much the same as when power was 
redistributed from the church to private business during the so-called bourgeois
revolution. European society changed a bit, at least superficially, but its 
conduct toward non-Europeans continued as before. You can see what the American 
Revolution of 1776 did for American Indians. It's the same old song.

Revolutionary Marxism, like industrial society in other forms, seeks to 
"rationalize" all people in relation to industry- maximum industry, maximum 
production. It is a doctrine that despises the American Indian spiritual 
tradition, our cultures, our lifeways. Marx himself called us "precapitalists" 
and "primitive." Precapitalist simply means that, in his view, we would 
eventually discover capitalism and become capitalists; we have always been 
economically retarded in Marxist term. The only manner in which American Indian 
people could participate in a Marxist revolution would be to join the industrial
system, to become factory workers, or "proletarians," as Marx called them. The 
man was very clear about the fact that his revolution could only occur through 
the struggle of the proletariat, that the existence of a massive industrial 
system is a precondition of a successful Marxist society.

I think there's a problem with language here. Christians, capitalists, Marxists.
All of them have been revolutionary in their own minds, but none of them really 
means revolution. What they really mean is continuation. They do what they do in
order that European culture can continue to exist and develop according to its 

So, in order for us to really join forces with Marxism, we American Indians 
would have to accept the national sacrifice of our homeland; we would have to 
commit cultural suicide and become industrialized and Europeanized.

At this point, I've got to stop and ask myself whether I'm being too harsh. 
Marxism has something of a history. Does this history bear out my observations? 
I look to the process of industrialization in the Soviet Union since 1920 and I 
see that these Marxists have done what it took the English Industrial Revolution
300 years to do; and the Marxists did it in 60 years. I see that the territory 
of the USSR used to contain a number of tribal peoples and that they have been 
crushed to make way for the factories. The Soviets refer to this as " the 
National Question." The question of whether the tribal peoples had the right to 
exist as peoples; and they decided the tribal peoples were an acceptable 
sacrifice to the industrial needs. I look to China and I see the same thing. I 
look to Vietnam and I see Marxists imposing an industrial order and rooting out 
the indigenous tribal mountain people.

I hear the leading Soviet scientist saying that when uranium is exhausted, then 
alternatives will be found. I see the Vietnamese taking over a nuclear power 
plant abandoned by the U.S. military. Have they dismantled and destroyed it? No,
they are using it. I see China exploding nuclear bombs, developing uranium 
reactors, and preparing a space program in order to colonize and exploit the 
planets the same as the Europeans colonized and exploited this hemisphere. It's 
the same old song, but maybe with a faster tempo this time.

The statement of the Soviet scientist is very interesting. Does he know what 
this alternative energy source will be? No, he simply has faith. Science will 
find a way. I hear revolutionary Marxists saying that the destruction of the 
environment, pollution, and radiation will all be controlled. And I see them act
upon their words. Do they know how these things will be controlled? No, they 
simply have faith. Science will find a way. Industrialization is fine and 
necessary. How do they know this? Faith. Science will find a way. Faith of this 
sort has always been known in Europe as religion. Science has become the new 
European religion for both capitalists and Marxists; they are truly inseparable;
they are part and parcel of the same culture. So, in both theory and practice, 
Marxism demands that non-European peoples give up their values, their 
traditions, their cultural existence altogether. We will all be industrialized 
science addicts in a Marxist society.

I do not believe that capitalism itself is really responsible for the situation 
in which American Indians have been declared a national sacrifice. No, it is the
European tradition ; European culture itself is responsible. Marxism is just the
latest continuation of this tradition, not a solution to it. To ally with 
Marxism is to ally with the very same forces that declare us an acceptable cost.

There is another way. There is the traditional Lakota way and the ways of the 
American Indian peoples. It is the way that knows that humans do not have the 
right to degrade Mother Earth, that there are forces beyond anything the 
European mind has conceived, that humans must be in harmony with all relations 
or the relations will eventually eliminate the disharmony. A lopsided emphasis 
on humans by humans-the Europeans' arrogance of acting as though they were 
beyond the nature of all related things-can only result in a total disharmony 
and a readjustment which cuts arrogant humans down to size, gives them a taste 
of that reality beyond their grasp or control and restores the harmony. There is
a need for a revolutionary theory to bring this about; it's beyond human 
control. The nature peoples of this planet know this and so they do not theorize
about it. Theory is an abstract; our knowledge is real.

Distilled to its basic terms, European faith-including the new faith in 
science-equals a belief that man is God. Europe has always sought a Messiah, 
whether that be the man Jesus Christ or the man Karl Marx or the man Albert 
Einstein. American Indians know this to be totally absurd. Humans are the 
weakest of all creatures, so weak that other creatures are willing to give up 
their flesh that we may live. Humans are able to survive only through the 
exercise of rationality since they lack the abilities of other creatures to gain
food through the use of fang and claw.

But rationality is a curse since it can cause humans to forget the natural order
of things in ways other creatures do not. A wolf never forgets his or her place 
in the natural order. American Indians can. Europeans almost always do. We pray 
our thanks to the deer, our relations, for allowing us their flesh to eat; 
Europeans simply take the flesh for granted and consider the deer inferior. 
After all, Europeans consider themselves godlike in their rationalism and 
science. God is the Supreme Being; all else must be inferior.

All European tradition, Marxism included, has conspired to defy the natural 
order of all things. Mother Earth has been abused, the powers have been abused, 
and this cannot go on forever. No theory can alter that simple fact. Mother 
Earth will retaliate, the whole environment will retaliate, and the abusers will
be eliminated. Things come full circle, back to where they started. That's 
revolution. And that's a prophecy of my people, of the Hopi people and of other 
correct peoples.

American Indians have been trying to explain this to Europeans for centuries. 
But, as I said earlier, Europeans have proven themselves unable to hear. The 
natural order will win out, and the offenders will die out, the way deer die 
when they offend the harmony by over-populating a given region. It's only a 
matter of time until what Europeans call "a major catastrophe of global 
proportions" will occur. It is the role of American Indian peoples, the role of 
all natural beings, to survive. A part of our survival is to resist. We resist 
not to overthrow a government or to take political power, but because it is 
natural to resist extermination, to survive. We don't want power over white 
institutions; we want white institutions to disappear. That's revolution.

American Indians are still in touch with these realities-the prophecies, the 
traditions of our ancestors. We learn from the elders, from nature, from the 
powers. And when the catastrophe is over, we American Indian peoples will still 
be here to inhabit the hemisphere. I don't care if it's only a handful living 
high in the Andes. American Indian people will survive; harmony will be 
reestablished. That's revolution.

At this point, perhaps I should be very clear about another matter, one which 
should already be clear as a result of what I've said. But confusion breeds 
easily these days, so I want to hammer home this point. When I use the term 
European, I'm not referring to a skin color or a particular genetic structure. 
What I'm referring to is a mind-set, a worldview that is a product of the 
development of European culture. People are not genetically encoded to hold this
outlook; they are acculturated to hold it. The same is true for American Indians
or for the members of any culture.

It is possible for an American Indian to share European values, a European 
worldview. We have a term for these people; we call them "apples"-red on the 
outside (genetics) and white on the inside (their values). Other groups have 
similar terms: Blacks have their "oreos"; Hispanos have "Coconuts" and so on. 
And, as I said before, there are exceptions to the white norm: people who are 
white on the outside, but not white inside. I'm not sure what term should be 
applied to them other than "human beings."

What I'm putting out here is not a racial proposition but a cultural 
proposition. Those who ultimately advocate and defend the realities of European 
culture and its industrialism are my enemies. Those who resist it, who struggle 
against it, are my allies, the allies of American Indian people. And I don't 
give a damn what their skin color happens to be. Caucasian is the white term for
the white race: European is an outlook I oppose.

The Vietnamese Communists are not exactly what you might consider genetic 
Caucasians, but they are now functioning as mental Europeans. The same holds 
true for Chinese Communists, for Japanese capitalists or Bantu Catholics or 
Peter "MacDollar" down at the Navajo Reservation or Dickie Wilson up here at 
Pine Ridge. There is no racism involved in this, just an acknowledgment of the 
mind and spirit that make up culture.

In Marxist terms I suppose I'm a "cultural nationalist." I work first with my 
people, the traditional Lakota people, because we hold a common worldview and 
share an immediate struggle. Beyond this, I work with other traditional American
Indian peoples, again because of a certain commonality in worldview and form of 
struggle. Beyond that, I work with anyone who has experienced the colonial 
oppression of Europe and who resists its cultural and industrial totality. 
Obviously, this includes genetic Caucasians who struggle to resist the dominant 
norms of European culture. The Irish and the Basques come immediately to mind, 
but there are many others.

I work primarily with my own people, with my own community. Other people who 
hold non-European perspectives should do the same. I believe in the slogan, 
"Trust your brother's vision," although I'd like to add sisters into the 
bargain. I trust the community and the culturally based vision of all the races 
that naturally resist industrialization and human extinction. Clearly, 
individual whites can share in this, given only that they have reached the 
awareness that continuation of the industrial imperatives of Europe is not a 
vision, but species suicide. White is one of the sacred colors of the Lakota 
people-red, yellow, white and black. The four directions. The four seasons. The 
four periods of life and aging. The four races of humanity. Mix red, yellow, 
white and black together and you get brown, the color of the fifth race. This is
a natural ordering of things. It therefore seems natural to me to work with all 
races, each with its own special meaning, identity and message.

But there is a peculiar behavior among most Caucasians. As soon as I become 
critical of Europe and its impact on other cultures, they become defensive. They
begin to defend themselves. But I'm not attacking them personally; I'm attacking
Europe. In personalizing my observations on Europe they are personalizing 
European culture, identifying themselves with it. By defending themselves in 
this context, they are ultimately defending the death culture. This is a 
confusion which must be overcome, and it must be overcome in a hurry. None of us
has energy to waste in such false struggles.

Caucasians have a more positive vision to offer humanity than European culture. 
I believe this. But in order to attain this vision it is necessary for 
Caucasians to step outside European culture-alongside the rest of humanity-to 
see Europe for what it is and what it does.

To cling to capitalism and Marxism and all other "isms" is simply to remain 
within European culture. There is no avoiding this basic fact. As a fact, this 
constitutes a choice. Understand that the choice is based on culture, not race. 
Understand that to choose European culture and industrialism is to choose to be 
my enemy. And understand that the choice is yours, not mine.

This leads me back to address those American Indians who are drifting through 
the universities, the city slums, and other European institutions. If you are 
there to resist the oppressor in accordance with your traditional ways, so be 
it. I don't know how you manage to combine the two, but perhaps you will 
succeed. But retain your sense of reality. Beware of coming to believe the white
world now offers solutions to the problems it confronts us with. Beware, too, of
allowing the words of native people to be twisted to the advantages of our 
enemies. Europe invented the practice of turning words around on themselves. You
need only look to the treaties between American Indian peoples and various 
European governments to know that this is true. Draw your strength from who you 

A culture which regularly confuses revolt with resistance, has nothing helpful 
to teach you and nothing to offer you as a way of life. Europeans have long 
since lost all touch with reality, if ever they were in touch with who you are 
as American Indians.

So, I suppose to conclude this, I should state clearly that leading anyone 
toward Marxism is the last thing on my mind. Marxism is as alien to my culture 
as capitalism and Christianity are. In fact, I can say I don't think I'm trying 
to lead anyone toward anything. To some extent I tried to be a "leader," in the 
sense that the white media like to use that term, when the American Indian 
Movement was a young organization. This was a result of a confusion I no longer 
have. You cannot be everything to everyone. I do not propose to be used in such 
a fashion by my enemies. I am not a leader. I am an Oglala Lakota patriot. That 
is all I want and all I need to be. And I am very comfortable with who I am.

Russell Means, born an Oglala/Lakota in 1939, on the Pine Ridge Indian 
Reservation near the Black Hills. As a young man, Russell's life was full of ups
and downs. In the late 60s he became focused and put his energy into fighting 
for Indian rights with The American Indian Movement. He became the first 
national director of AIM. Continued.

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