MANHATTAN, Kan. — Indian activist Russell Means says the confrontation between federal authorities and an armed cult near Waco is similar to an armed standoff 20 years ago between law enforcement officials and Indians at Wounded Knee, South Dakota.
Means, the keynote speaker Thursday at Kansas State University’s Native American heritage month celebration, told a packed student union room authorities had “no good reason” to attack the Branch Davidians compound outside Waco.
“I’m happy Koresh has the weapons he does,” Means said of cult-leader Vernon Howell, also known as David Koresh. “Why did the government attack him? To search for illegal weapons? Why would the military attack a citizen of the U.S.?”
A member of the audience suggested authorities were trying to enforce the law and investigate allegations of child molestation at Howell’s compound.
“Nowhere in that search warrant does it mention child molestation,” he said. . . “I’m not a fan of Koresh. I’m not a fan of the Branch Davidians. But we all have a right to live without fear of the government.”
For comparison, Means referred to the 1973 confrontation at Wounded Knee between federal authorities and about 200 Indians. The action resulted in two deaths and more than 300 arrests.
The occupation was a protest of federal Indian policies and also a result of a tribal dispute among the Oglala Sioux.