Westerman, Floyd: Musician, activist, elder passes on

By Paul DeMain
News From Indian Country


Floyd Red Crow Westerman, 71, of Palm Springs, California walked on during the earlier morning hours of December 13, 2007.

A memorial service was held in Westerman's home on Dec. 14 in Marina del Rey, California. Wake services were held at the Tiospa Zina Tribal School in Sisseton, South Dakota according to his brother, Christ (Chris) Westerman. Funeral services were held at St. Matthew's Catholic Cemetery on December 17th in Veblen, South Dakota.

Westerman had been battling health issues complicated by leukemia for weeks in critical condition at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles, California.

Westerman, a musician, activist and actor was born on the Lake Traverse Reservation, home of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Dakota in the state of South Dakota. The elder Dakota in the late 20th century became a leading actor depicting Native Americans in American films and television and an advocate for many causes.



Floyd Red Crow Westerman passed to the spirit world this morning in Los Angeles, California with family at his side. Services are pending. We thank you from our hearts for all the prayers and support and kindness and love that you have shown him and us.

Gwen Westerman Griffin
Mankanto, Minnesota

“He always said he was a musician first and he just acted for the money,” his son said.

Westerman completed work in September on the upcoming Costner film “Swing Vote.”

He was an activist for environmental causes, and for the rights of American Indians and other indigenous people. In the 1990s, Westerman toured the world with Sting to raise money to preserve rain forests.

“He was really, really politically conscious,” his son said. “He said the Iraq war is just another land grab, like they did with Oklahoma and the Midwest in America. Back then it was about land and gold, and now it was about oil.”

Westerman was born Aug. 17, 1936.

At the age of 10, he was sent to the Wahpeton Boarding School, where he first met Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement. His involvement with Banks over the years blossomed as he traveled on behalf and in support of many activities of AIM.

Westerman earned a degree in secondary education from Northern State University in South Dakota where he majored in both art, and speech and theatre.

He began singing in Denver, Colorado and signed his first record contract in 1969. His albums included Custer Died for Your Sins, (1970), Indian Country: (1970), and The land Is Your Mother, (1973).

His first album, 1970's Custer Died for Your Sins, took its name from an influential book by Santee Sioux author and activist Vine Deloria, Jr., and both were stinging rebukes of America's destructive Indian policy. His most recent album was A Tribute to Johnny Cash, (2006).


Westerman's film and television appearances include the role of the "Shaman" for Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors and as "Ten Bears" in Dances with Wolves. Westerman debuted in Renegades in which he played "Red Crow" the Lakota Sioux father of Lou Diamond Phillips. Westerman 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 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.

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, Westerman has collaborated with Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson, Bonnie Raitt and Buffy Sainte-Marie.

In 1998, he attended the first Native American Music Awards and performed with Joanne Shenandoah in a tribute performance for Hall of Fame Inductee, the late Buddy Red Bow.

In 2002 he was awarded the NAMA Living Legend Award at the Fifth Annual Native American Music Awards with Keith Secola accepting on his behalf.

In 2006, he was won Best Country Recording at the Native American Music Awards for his last full length recording, "A Tribute To Johnny Cash" released by Henhouse Studios.

" 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 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 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 . . . "


Floyd Westerman's musical presentation

Westerman has also been a recognized political advocate for Native American causes, working at times with AIM and other Native organizations at the grass root level, and donating his time free of charge, to help raise money for Native causes. He would aften appear at events with close friends, Oneida comedian Charlie Hill and Ojibwe musician Keith Secola.

In 2000, American Indian Expo named Westerman Indian Celebrity of the Year.

Among other accolades, Westerman received a Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition, the Award for Generosity by the Americans for Indian Opportunity, was named Cultural Ambassador by the International Indian Treaty Council, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the City of Los Angeles and Mayor Richard Riordan, the Integrity Award from the Multi-Cultural Motion Picture Association.

He was also featured in an international advertising campaign by Dutch software company, OTIB, alongside such dignitaries as former Soviet Union president Mikhail Gorbachev and Czech Republic president Vaclav Havel

From 2003-2007, Westerman appeared in a number of television advertisements for "Lakota" brand topical pain reliever, often wearing traditional Native dress.

Survivors include his wife, Rosie, and daughters Jennifer Westerman of Arizona, Chante Westerman of Washington state, Nicky Jackson of Minneapolis, and Chenoa Westerman of South Dakota.

Famous Works

  • Film Appearances
  • (As Floyd Westerman) Voice on Citizen's Band radio, Powwow Highway, Warner Bros., 1988
  • Arthur (some sources cite role of Red Crow), Renegades, Universal,1989
  • Chief Ten Bears, Dances with Wolves, Orion, 1990
  • Shaman, The Doors, TriStar, 1991
  • Wilf Redwing, Clearcut, Northern Arts, 1991
  • Chief Tawanka, Jonathan degli orsi (also known as Jonathan of the Bears), 1993
  • Uncle Ray, Deadly Reunion, 1995
  • Indian Bob, Dusting Cliff 7 (also known as Last Assassins),1996
  • Papa, The Brave, 1997
  • Chairman Pico, Naturally Native, Red Horse Productions, 1998
  • (As Floyd Crow Westerman) Powwow chief, Grey Owl, New City Releasing, 1999
  • Chakashi, Atlantis: Milo's Return, Buena Vista Home Video, 2003
  • Himself, Last Party (also known as The Party's Over), FilmMovement, 2003
  • Old man, Truth and Dare (also known as Party On), Dream Merchant Pictures/VisionStorm Entertainment, 2003
  • Chief Eagle Horn, Hidalgo, Buena Vista, 2004
  • Television Appearances
  • Series
  • Uncle Raymond Firewalker, Walker, Texas Ranger, CBS, 1993-1994
  • Miniseries
  • Sitting Bull, Son of the Morning Star, ABC, 1991
  • Hendrick, The Broken Chain, TNT, 1993
  • Grandfather Fool Bull, Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee, TNT, 1994
  • No Ears, Buffalo Girls, CBS, 1995
  • Voice, 500 Nations, CBS, 1995
  • Iron Spoon, DreamKeeper, ABC, 2003
  • Movies
  • Ysabel (some sources cite Gabriel), Rio Shannon, ABC, 1993
  • Plenty Wounds, Siringo, 1994
  • Buffalo Soldiers, TNT, 1997
  • Specials
  • Cohost, Legends of the West with Jack Palance (also known as Legends of the West), syndicated, 1992
  • Narrator, The Dakota Conflict, PBS, 1993
  • Voice of Sitting Bull, The Wild West, syndicated, 1993
  • Episodic
  • (As Floyd Westerman) Two Eagles, "Mask of the Wolf," MacGyver, ABC, 1988
  • "The Cleveland Indian," Hardball, NBC, 1989
  • Judge Gainser, "Dances with Sharks," L.A. Law, NBC, 1991
  • One Who Waits, "The Big Kiss," Northern Exposure, CBS, 1991
  • Uncle Ashie Nakai (some sources cite Sam Keeyani), "Night of the Coyote,"Murder, She Wrote, CBS, 1992
  • One Who Waits, "Duets," Northern Exposure, CBS, 1993
  • Codger, Johnny Bago, CBS, 1993
  • Albert Hosteen, "Anasazi," The X-Files, Fox, 1995
  • Albert Hosteen, "The Blessing Way," The X-Files, Fox, 1995
  • Albert Hosteen, "Paper Clip," The X-Files, Fox, 1995
  • "The Last Thursday in November," Roseanne, ABC, 1995
  • Ernie Two Feathers, "Mirage," The Pretender, NBC, 1997
  • (As Floyd Westerman) Ezekial, "Shadow Fall," Poltergeist: The Legacy, Showtime and Sci-Fi Channel, 1997
  • George Littlefox, "Indian Summer," Dharma & Greg, ABC, 1997
  • Old Indian, "A Single Blade of Grass," Millennium, Fox, 1997
  • Wahotay, "The Vortex," Baywatch Nights, syndicated, 1997
  • George Littlefox, "Brought to You in Dharma Vision," Dharma & Greg, ABC, 1998
  • Albert Hosteen, "Biogenesis," The X-Files, Fox, 1999
  • Albert Hosteen, "The Sixth Extinction II: Amor Fati," The X-Files,Fox, 1999
  • Albert Hosteen, "En Ami," The X-Files, Fox, 2000
  • George Littlefox, "Mother and Daughter Reunion," Dharma & Greg, ABC, 2000
  • George Littlefox, "Intensive Caring," Dharma & Greg, ABC, 2001
  • Jonah Wheeler, "Rights of Passage," Judging Amy, CBS, 2001
  • Appeared in Roswell, The WB and UPN.
  • Other
  • Himself as a representative of the International Indian Treaty Council, Den femte port (also known as The 5th Gate and Den 5. port), TV 2 Danmark [Denmark], 2000
  • Television Work
  • Series
  • Additional voices, Captain Planet and the Planeteers (animated; also known as The New Adventures of Captain Planet), TBS, 1990-1993
  • Albums
  • Custer Died for Your Sins, 1970
  • This Land Is Your Mother, 1982
  • Also recorded Indian Country.
  • Videos
  • Albert Hosteen, The X-Files: The Unopened File, 1996
  • Songs for Films
  • "Prayer Song," Clearcut, Northern Arts, 1991
  • Albums
  • Custer Died for Your Sins, 1970
  • This Land Is Your Mother, 1982
  • Recorded Indian Country. Songwriter with Jackson Brown,Kris Kristofferson, Joni Mitchell, and Willie Nelson.