The Names of Clouds




An Introduction to American Indian Thought and Philosophy


Russell Means & Bayard Johnson


Book Preview

MG_2025sIn the last months before leaving to join the Ancestors, Russell Means felt the need to record in permanent written form many of the beliefs and traditions that he was taught as a boy and as a young leader of the American Indian Movement.

Russell believed that this knowledge was in danger of being lost forever. His teachers were Traditional Indians, many of whom were born in the 19th century. These Elders were born into a different time and world, when traditional Lakotah freedoms and complete sovereignty were a personal memory for many.

This book is a concise and comprehensive encapsulation of the Traditional Lakotah world view. The Elders who gave Russell these cultural insights and values were never educated in the white man’s systems. The words are those of an Indian telling his own people’s story, not those of an anthropologist striving to understand an alien culture and belief system. Much of this information is available nowhere else.

The knowledge is broken down into numberous categories, beginning with the Ancestors and the Matrilineal system common to most indigenous people around the world, and concluding with perspectives relating to the future. The book also contains drawings done by Russell Means, a renowned artist.

European and Euro-derivative societies have never clearly understood the fundamental ontological and cosmological beliefs of the American Indians, nor those of other Indigenous societies, and this lack of understanding has led to centuries of disrespect, genocide, and oppression. The hope is that this book might help correct this tragedy in several ways. Indigenous people may recognize more about their own cultures and realize how much they have in common with other indigenous populations around the world. Industrial societies will have an opportunity to become familiar with an almost diametrically opposed belief system which has never led mass populations into sociopathic practices like genocide and destruction of their own environment.



Treaty Publications is pleased to announce the publication of Russell Means’ new book, “If You’ve Forgotten The Names Of The Clouds, You’ve Lost Your Way: An Introduction to American Indian Thought and Philosophy.”

Co-written by Bayard Johnson (author of “Damned Right”), “Clouds” takes the reader on a journey into the intriguing and little-understood belief system and world view shared by many American Indians and other indigenous people around the world.

The American Indian way of living has almost nothing in common with the patriarchal philosophies and religions of Europe and Asia, and this book helps explain the violent clash of cultures that continues to erupt between indigenous and industrial societies whenever they come into contact anywhere in the world.

Few Lakota of our time heard the true account of their people’s beliefs directly from Elders who were born free, whose earliest memories pre-dated the fencing of the Plains and the imprisonment of the Lakota people and culture. Russell Means was one of these.

As a young leader of the American Indian Movement, which helped resuscitate Indian nations throughout the hemisphere, Russell had the privilege of learning traditional Lakota ways and knowledge from Elders who were steeped in these ancient teachings. In this book Russell passes along this timeless and timely wisdom to a world starved for balance and truth.

Look for “If You’ve Forgotten The Names Of The Clouds, You’ve Lost Your Way: An Introduction to American Indian Thought and Philosophy” on Amazon, Barnes&, and wherever books are sold.

Here’s what author Britt Allcroft (“Thomas and the Magic Railroad”) had to say about “Clouds”:

At a time when sacred burial grounds are being desecrated by financial corporations for financial gain, grandparents spend their last years in solitary far from their families and the attitude of entitlement has become the social norm, we really need “Clouds”…

At a time when the presence of humans is increasingly toxic through thought and deed, our relationships with each other, with animals and with Mother Earth herself–we need to read “Clouds”…

“Remember, if the Creator put it there, it is in the right place. The soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears”

(From the chapter named “The Sacredness of Colors”)

The indigenous beliefs go back into the mists of time and are timeless. I think we are in the midst of an emerging world revolution of thought and culture–and we must hope and take action so that we shall have the chance to change our ways of being as humans.

In particular, it is the young who should have access to “Clouds” and in doing so, they will be in the company of this magnificent man’s mind and spirit.

This slim book leads us on the path back to Natural Law.

We should follow.

From the Amazon description of “Clouds”:

“This book begins the explanation of how traditional American Indian thought and philosophy were integral to day-to-day matrilineal life. The civilization of the American Indian was predicated on the people’s relationships with every form of life, from the perspective of close-knit family communities. This introduction partially explains why indigenous people the world over never overpopulate their environment or destroy the lands where they live. This is the only philosophy that can stop the worldwide ongoing rape by the patriarchs.”

Wife of Indian activist Means will attend signing.

An Interview with Pearl Means

Book Review by Kathleen J. Martin

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