He became a prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM) after joining the organisation in 1968, and helped organize notable events that attracted national and international media coverage. The organization split in 1993, in part over the 1975 murder of Anna Mae Aquash, the leading woman activist in AIM.
Means has been active in international issues of indigenous peoples, including working with groups in Central and South America, and with the United Nations for recognition of their rights. He has been active in politics at his native Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and at the state and national level.
Since 1992, he has acted in numerous films and released his own music CD. He published his autobiography Where White Men Fear to Tread in 1997.