Floyd "Red Crow" Westerman, also known as Kanghi Duta (August 17, 1936 â" December 13, 2007), was a Sioux musician, political activist, and actor. After establishing a career as a country music singer, later in his life, he became a leading actor depicting Native Americans in American films and television. He is sometimes credited simply as Floyd Westerman. He worked as a political activist for Native American causes.
Westerman was born Floyd Westerman (Kanghi Duta) on the Lake Traverse Indian Reservation, home of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, a federally recognized tribe. It is one of the tribes of the Eastern Dakota subgroup of the Great Sioux Nation, living within the U.S. state of South Dakota. Kanghi Duta means "Red Crow" in Dakota (one of the three Sioux related languages). At the age of 10, Westerman was sent to the Wahpeton Boarding School, where he first met Dennis Banks (who as an adult became a leader of the American Indian Movement). There Westerman and other boys were forced to cut their traditionally long hair and forbidden to speak their native languages. This experience would profoundly impact Westerman's later life. As an adult, he championed his own heritage.
He graduated from Northern State University with a B.A. degree in secondary education. He served two years in the US Marines, before beginning his career as a singer.
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 solo recordings, Westerman collaborated with Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Harry Belafonte, Joni Mitchell, Kris Kristofferson, and Buffy Sainte-Marie. In the 1990s, he toured with Sting to raise funds to preserve rain forests.
Westerman became interested in acting after years of performing as a singer. He debuted his film career in Renegades (1989), in which he played "Red Crow", the Lakota Sioux father of Hank Storm, the character played by Lou Diamond Phillips. Additional film roles include "Chief Ten Bears" in Dances with Wolves (1990), and the "shaman" for the singer Jim Morrison in Oliver Stone's The Doors (1991). Westerman appeared as Standing Elk, alongside his long-time friend Max Gail, in the family film, Tillamook Treasure (2006). He appeared in Hidalgo (2004), as Chief Eagle Horn in Buffalo Bill's circus. In September 2007, Westerman finished work for the film Swing Vote (2008).
Television roles included playing "Uncle Ray" on Walker, Texas Ranger (during the pilot and first regular seasons), "One Who Waits" on Northern Exposure, and multiple appearances as "Albert Hosteen" on The X-Files.
Marriage and family
Westerman was survived by his last wife, Rosie. Prior to that marriage, he had been married several times previously and fathered five children.
Westerman died from complications of leukemia at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on December 13, 2007. He was survived by his wife Rosie and five children.
"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 â" they didn't listen..."
-from the Floyd Westerman song "They Didn't Listen", which Westerman recited in concluding his testimony in 1992 at the World Uranium Hearing in Salzburg, Austria.
- Powwow Highway (1989) (voice)
- Renegades (1989)
- Dances with Wolves (1990)
- Son of the Morning Star (1991)
- The Doors (1991)
- Clearcut (1991)
- Jonathan of the Bears (1993)
- Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee (1994)
- 500 Nations (voice) (1995)
- Buffalo Girls (1995)
- The Brave (1997)
- Dusting Cliff 7 (1997)
- Grey Owl (1998)
- Atlantis: Milo's Return (voice) (2003)
- Dreamkeeper (2003)
- Hidalgo (2004)
- Tillamook Treasure (2006)
- Comanche Moon (2008)
- Swing Vote (2008)
Selected television appearances
- Walker, Texas Ranger (pilot season and season 1)
- Northern Exposure
- Dharma & Greg
- Poltergeist: The Legacy
- The Pretender
- The X-Files
- Murder, She Wrote
- Captain Planet and the Planeteers (voice)
- L.A. Law
- Judging Amy
- Baywatch Nights
- Custer Died for Your Sins (1969)
- Indian Country (1970)
- Custer Died for Your Sins (re-recording; 1982)
- The Land is Your Mother (1982)
- Oyate (with Tony Hymas; 1990)
- A Tribute to Johnny Cash (2006)
- Official website
- Floyd Red Crow Westerman at Find a Grave
- Floyd Red Crow Westerman at the Internet Movie Database
- Los Angeles Times: Floyd Red Crow Westerman obituary
- Native American Times
- News From Indian Country
- Floyd Red Crow Westerman tribute
- Westerman's last cd
- Floyd Red Crow Westerman In Memoriam ~ his last film
- First Person Radio audio profile
- Floyd Red Crow Westerman in The Earth is Crying (1986)