From an oversea’s show, spliced to view the message from one elder (Floyd Red Crow Westerman)…how America has come and is destined to go.
Westerman was born Floyd Kanghi Duta Westerman on the Lake Traverse Reservation, home of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Dakota (Sioux) in the U.S. state of South Dakota. “Kanghi Duta” means “Red Crow” in Dakota (one of the 3 “Sioux” dialects). As a youth, he attended an off-reservation elementary school where he was forced to cut his hair and forbidden to speak his native language. This would profoundly impact his later life and his restless pursuit of championing his own heritage. At the age of 10, Westerman was sent to the Wahpeton Boarding School, where he first met Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement.
Westerman’s film and television appearances include the role of the “shaman” for Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s The Doors and as “Chief Ten Bears” in Dances with Wolves. Westerman debuted in Renegades in which he played “Red Crow” the Lakota Sioux father of Lou Diamond Phillips. In his last film, Westerman 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 Chief Sitting Bull in Buffalo Bill‘s circus.
His television roles have included playing “Uncle Ray” on Walker, Texas Ranger, “One Who Waits” on Northern Exposure and multiple appearances as “Albert Hosteen” on the X-Files. In September 2007, Westerman finished work for the film Swing Vote.
Before entering films and television, Westerman had established a solid reputation as a country-western music singer. His recordings offer a probing analysis of European influences in Native American communities. In addition to several recordings of his own, Westerman has collaborated with Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Harry Belafonte, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Westerman toured with Sting in the 1990s to raise funds to preserve rain forests.
He earned a degree in secondary education from Northern State University in South Dakota. Westerman also spent two years in the United States Marine Corps.
Westerman was also a recognized political advocate for Native American causes, working at times with the American Indian Movement. In 2000, American Indian Expo named Westerman celebrity of the year.
From 2003–2007, Westerman appeared in a number of television advertisements for “Lakota” brand topical pain reliever, often wearing traditional Native dress.
Westerman died on December 13, 2007, at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles after an extended illness and complications from leukemia.
His interment was located at Saint Matthew’s Catholic Cemetery in Veblen, South Dakota.
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