- By Darren Thompson
Pearl Daniel-Means, a renowned Diné filmmaker, activist and writer, passed away on Saturday, May 28, according to her business partner Shannon Kring. Daniel-Means was 62. The cause of her death has not been disclosed by her family.
Born into the Ashiihi (Salt) Clan of the Navajo Nation, Daniel-Means was given a Lakota name Iyoyanbya Izanzan Win, which translates to “Bright Light.”
“Pearl more than lived up to her Lakota name and she was a bright light in my life and in this world,” Kring told Native News Online. “Even those who did not have the honor of knowing her personally were touched by her tireless work to bring to light the struggles and triumphs of Indigenous peoples.”
Daniel-Means spoke around the world on matters concerning Indigenous issues, human rights, and environmentalism. She was married to American Indian activist, author, artist, and actor Russell Means until his death in 2012, and was his business manager and collaborator on many projects.
Daniel-Means is the co-producer of the film “End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock,” which streams on Peacock beginning June 2. Directed by Kring, the film documents the women who risked their lives to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline in late 2016 through early 2017 on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
On Tuesday evening, the film's Facebook page posted news of Daniel-Means' passing: "It is with deepest sorrow that we announce that our beloved sister and co-producer Pearl Means has transcended. Born into the Ashiihi (Salt) Clan of the Navajo Nation, Pearl was a film producer, activist, author, daughter, sister, mother, and grandmother who spoke around the world—from New Zealand to South Africa, and from Ecuador to Finland—on matters concerning Indigenous issues, human rights, and environmentalism. Her Lakota name, Iyoyanbya Izanzan Win, translates loosely to 'Bright Light.' Her name could not be more fitting. Rest in power, sister. We love you."
In the last few years, Daniel-Means served on the board of directors for several organizations that serve Indigenous people, including the Lakota People’s Law Project, which made an announcement on social media sharing the passing of Means. “She was one of our most incredible supporters and board members,” the Lakota People’s Law Project wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “We will share more about her impact and life in the near future.”
Daniel-Means is survived by her father, Ernest Wayne Daniel; her sisters, Patricia Rose Daniel, Rebecca Ann Daniel, Naomi Kathleen Daniel, Roberta Lea Daniel-Trotter; her children, Tessica Dawn Baca, Trista Cheryal Baca, and Brandon James Norwick (Alexandrea); her granddaughter, Arya Kaya-Pearl Robertson; and her life partner, Dr. Edmund Keli’i Paki-Silva, Jr.
More Stories Like ThisJudge Rules Two Freedmen Eligible for Tribal Citizenship of Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Tribe Appeals
National Test of Emergency Alert System Set for Wednesday Afternoon
Indigenous Peoples’ Day Act Reintroduced in Congress
Man Charged in Rape of 11-year-old Girl in Bemidji
Eliot Neal Named New Missing or Murdered Indigenous Person Assistant United States Attorney for the Southwest Regions
Stand with us in championing Indigenous journalism that makes a difference. Your support matters.
Support our Indigenous-led newsroom as we shed light on critical issues, such as the painful history of Indian Boarding Schools. To date, we've published nearly 200 stories dedicated to this important topic, providing insights and awareness to a global audience. Our news is freely accessible to all, but its production demands resources. That's why we're reaching out to you this month for your generous contribution.
For those who commit to a recurring donation of $12 per month or more, or make a one-time donation of $150 or greater, we're excited to offer you a copy of our upcoming Indian Boarding School publication. Additionally, you will be added to our Founder's Circle. Together, we can ensure that these vital stories continue to be told, shared, and remembered.