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Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman was an actor and activist - tribute to this American Indian celebrity

Updated on February 1, 2013

Floyd Red Crow Westerman the American Indian and star

Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman will be remembered for many reasons, including his great talents as an actor and singer that made him the star that he was, but first and foremost he was an American Indian. Red Crow was born in South Dakota in 1936 on the Lake Traverse Reservation.

He was given the name Floyd Kanghi Duta Westerman but in Sioux "Kanghi Duta" translates as Red Crow, so this part of his name is not a nickname he was given later on in life as you may think.

As a boy Red Crow was forced to go to an off-reservation school and he comments on how this was done to his people in his songs. His early experiences in life were to influence him later on when he became an outspoken political activist and singer-songwriter.

At the age of 10 he attended the Wahpeton Boarding School, and this was where he met up with Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement (AIM).

Red Crow in Indigenous Native American Prophecy

Floyd Westerman the singer and actor

Before he established himself as an actor for film and television, Floyd Westerman had carved out a career for himself as a country and western and folk singer. He wrote his own material and also covered songs by other writers and recorded and released a number of albums.

The double album The Land is Your Mother and Custer Died for Your Sins is an excellent collection of his songs. It is a mix of straight country and western numbers along with blues and folk, as well as the traditional songs, Rabbit Dance Song and Sioux Rabbit Song. Other titles include Custer Died for Your Sins, Missionaries, B.I.A., Wounded Knee and his own The Land is Your Mother.

There are strong elements of protest in the lyrics and a reflection on the terrible past that his people have suffered. He often performed live accompanying himelf on acoustic guitar.

As well as his recordings and own material, Floyd Westerman collaborated with fellow singer-songwriters Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Red Crow also went on tour with Sting in the 1990s to raise funds for rain forest preservation.

Floyd Westerman made many appearances in films and played a number of roles in his acting career. He was in the part of the “shaman” for rock legend Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone’s The Doors.

Westerman played the role of Chief Ten Bears in Dances with Wolves , and he was the character known as Standing Elk in the family movie, Tillamook Treasure in 2006.

Before his death in December 2007, Floyd Westerman completed work for the film Swing Vote in September of the same year.

On TV, Westerman had many appearances too, including playing the role of Uncle Ray on Walker, Texas Ranger , and One Who Waits on Northern Exposure . He was in LA Law, Roseanne and made several appearances on the popular X-Files series.

There is a video doing the rounds on YouTube that gives the impression that Red Crow is a Hopi Elder, and in it he does refer to the Hopi which supports this belief. Floyd Red Crow Westerman may not have been a member of the Hopi tribe but he was most certainly a Native American elder, and a man with much great wisdom to share.

Home Videos Channels Watch this video in a new window Floyd Red Crow Westerman - Just Another Holy Man

Floyd Westerman album cover

Floyd Westerman's double album The Land Is Your Mother and Custer Died For Your Sins
Floyd Westerman's double album The Land Is Your Mother and Custer Died For Your Sins

Floyd Westerman's death

Floyd Red Crow Westerman passed on to the spirit world on 13 December, 2007, in the Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, after losing the battle against leukemia with which he had been suffering. He is survived by his five children.

In his song They Didn't Listen, Floyd Westerman sang:

"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. "

Perhaps they didn't listen when he wrote it but many of Red Crow's fans have had ears to hear what he had to say. Floyd Red Crow Westerman lives on in this world in the wisdom of his songs.

Copyright © 2012 Steve Andrews. All Rights Reserved.

A memorial tribute to Floyd Red Crow Westerman


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    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, A.M!

    • profile image

      A.M. Gwynn 8 years ago

      Oh my goodness Bard, how did I miss this one?!

      I admired Floyd Red Crow.

      He was a fabulous human being and touched the lives of so many. He is greatly missed.

      Thank you for this article.

    • Bard of Ely profile image

      Steve Andrews 8 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

      Thank you, Maven, Ann and Lisa! I am very glad you have all enjoyed my hub!

    • lisadpreston profile image

      lisadpreston 8 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

      I enjoy reading your hubs about Native Americans. I am half Native American myself and this past summer I went cross country with one of my native american friends who is an elder that sits at council and is very much an activist for our people. The trip was the most exciting adventure I had been on filled with his many many stories. I learned so much. One of the fun things we did was stop at the 1880s town where the actual movie props are located from Dances with Wolves. A memory that I will treasure forever.

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 8 years ago from Virginia

      I'm learning soooo much Native American history, Bard of Ely, from you...Good job!

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 8 years ago from Northern Arizona

      There's something about the stoic patience and regal bearing of native Americans that always struck me as uniquely American and the genesis of American individualism ...Red Crow was a great actor and a great man...His wisdom was renowned throughout the western reservations he frequently visited...Iron Eyes Cody was another native American I greatly admired...Thank you for this very interesting and informative Hub...Larry