Floyd Red Crow Westerman (August 17, 1936 – December 13, 2007)
Floyd Red Crow Westerman, Sisseton-Wapheton Dakota musician, actor, poet and activist, passed away at 5:00 a.m. PST, at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after an extended illness. He was 71.
Floyd Red Crow, who began
his career as a country singer, appeared in over 50 films and television productions,
including Dances with Wolves, The Doors, Poltergeist, and Northern Exposure.
He appeared in 12 episodes of the 1990s TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger, as
Uncle Ray Firewalker. He made his film debut in Renegades playing “Red
Crow,” the Lakota Sioux father of Lou Diamond Phillips. He followed that
with the role of the “Shaman” to Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s
The Doors, and with a key role as “Ten Bears” in Dances with Wolves.
His television roles have included playing “Uncle Ray” on Walker,
Texas Ranger, and “One Who Waits” on Northern Exposure and several
appearances on the hit show Dharma and Greg. He also appeared as Standing Elk
alongside his long-time friend Max Gail in the 2006 family film, Tillamook Treasure.
He can be seen as well in the beginning of Hidalgo, as the Chief in Buffalo
His television roles have also included playing "One Who Waits" on Northern Exposure and multiple appearances as "Albert Hosteen" on the X-Files.
He has not only been an embodiment of Native American spirit on screen, but also a fierce advocate of Native American rights off screen as a leader in the North American Indian Movement. Born at the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota, his career includes being a highly regarded country-folk singer.
As a young man, he was educated at the Wapheton and Flandreau Boarding Schools, where he became a close companion and life-long friend of Dennis Banks. He left his home on the Lake Traverse reservation in South Dakota, with a suitcase and an old guitar in hand. He rambled across the country playing country music and original tunes in bars and clubs, living for some time in Denver. In 1969, his first album 'Custer Died for Your Sins' became the background theme of the emerging Red Power Movement.
As a member of American Indian Movement, and a spokesman for the International Indian Treaty Council, he traveled the world extensively working for the betterment of native people. He also worked throughout his life to empower Indian youth. "They are our future," he said in a November interview. "Today we are fighting a great battle against the popular culture that surrounds them. It's a battle for their hearts and minds. We need to work to inspire them to embrace their own history and culture. Without them, we Indians have no future."
Being a recognized political advocate for Native American causes, in 2000, American Indian Expo named Floyd Red Crow celebrity of the year.
His vision of improved social conditions for indigenous people around the globe is reflected in the music of his second album, 'The Land is Your Mother', 1982. In 2006, he won a NAMMY Award for his third album, 'A Tribute to Johnny Cash'.
Before his entrance in films and television, Westerman had established a solid reputation as a country-western music singer. His recordings offer probing analysis of European influences in Native American communities. In addition to several recordings of his own, he has collaborated with Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson, Harry Belafonte, Sting and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Before that, he had earned a degree in secondary education from Northern State University in South Dakota.
From 2003-2007, he appeared in a number of television advertisements for "Lakota" brand topical pain reliever, often wearing traditional Native dress.
2 of Red Crow's well-known Quotes:
Quote 1. -From the Floyd Westerman song "They Didn't Listen" as he recited the lyric concluding his testimony in 1992 at the World Uranium Hearings in Salzburg,
"I feel honored to sing this song especially for this Hearing. But before I do, I have something special to pass on, that the sacred fire we have been keeping for the last four days will be in a ceremony, it will be put out tomorrow at noon. So those wishing to go to that ceremony at noon to put the fire out for the fourth day, can be there. Thomas Banyacya will be there to make the ceremony offering for the ending of the fourth day. There's been much enthusiasm for the sacred fire. We have decided to start another fire that day, that evening for another four days, which will go until Sunday. So, those people who wish to volunteer and be keepers of the fire, the sacred fire, will be able to have opportunity to sit with the fire. So, anybody who wishes to be with this fire all night can be at the fire all night. You can go up there tonight, they will have a tipi there, and people can sit by the fire and pray, and it will be put out at noon tomorrow.
Before I sing this song, I would like to quote a very prejudicial doctrine that was handed down by the Supreme Court in 1823. It was written by the Church. This doctrine should be denounced by this Hearing in some formal way. I think that from this Hearing we should create a United Indigenous Nations Council, such as the United Nations. We shall be the United Indigenous Nations. We should denounce this prejudicial doctrine that was created by their Church, Catholic Church, in 1823. Here is the doctrine:
This doctrine handed down by the Supreme Court in 1823, in which it said that the Indian Nations do not have title to their lands, they only have title of occupancy, because they weren't Christians when the Europeans first got here. That the first Christian Nations to discover an area of heathen and infidel lands has the ultimate dominion over those lands and the absolute title.
This is a doctrine that we should, the Indigenous Nations, should go to the Pope and also to the President of the United States to withdraw and renounce this document and to establish a new basis for relationship between indigenous peoples and other peoples of the world.
I changed a couple of words, so that this song might be one representative of this international Hearing. The title is: "They didn't listen".
"And I told them not to dig for uranium, for if they did, the children would die. They didn't listen, they didn't listen, they didn't listen to me.
And I told them if the children die, there would be no keepers of the land. They didn't listen.
And I told them if they destroy the sky, machines would come and soon destroy the land. They didn't listen . . .
And I told them if they destroy the land, man would have to move into the sea. They didn't listen . . .
And I told them if they destroy the sea -- they didn't listen . . . "
Thank you very much."
Quote 2. "There is an ancient Indian saying that something lives only as long as the last person who remembers it. My people have come to trust memory over history. Memory, like fire, is radiant and immutable while history serves only those who seek to control it, those who douse the flame of memory in order to put out the dangerous fire of truth. Beware these men for they are dangerous themselves and unwise. Their false history is written in the blood of those who might remember and of those who seek the truth." -Floyd Westerman as Albert Hosteen in The X-Files episode "The Blessing Way"
Floyd Red Crow Westerman Films
Dusting Cliff 7
Jonathan degli orsi
Legends of the West
Dances with Wolves
Powwow Highway (voice)
We Pray with Tobacco (documentary)
Last Party 2000 (aka Party's Over USA: video title)
Atlantis: Milo's Return
Truth and Dare... aka Party On
Legends of the West
500 Nations (voice)
Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee
The Broken Chain
Walker, Texas Ranger
Dharma & Greg
Poltergeist: The Legacy
Murder, She Wrote
Captain Planet and the Planeteers (voice)
Femte port, Den (TV movie)
Custer Died for Your Sins (1969)
The Land is Your Mother (1982)
A Tribute to Johnny Cash (2006)
Floyd Red Crow will be taken home to Sisseton, South Dakota for memorial services and burial. Plans for a memorial service in Los Angeles are also being made.
He is survived by his wife Rosie, son Richard
Tall Bear and daughters Jennifer Westerman of Arizona, Chante Westerman of Washington
state, Nicky Jackson of Minneapolis and Chenoa Westerman of South Dakota.
Music: Theme from Dances With Wolves