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Featured Memorial | Floyd Westerman

Floyd Red Crow Westerman Obituary

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Floyd Red Crow Westerman, an American Indian activist, actor and folk singer who appeared in "Dances with Wolves" and performed with Willie Nelson and other musicians, has died at age 71.

Westerman, who lived in Marina del Rey, died Thursday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from complications of leukemia, said his son, Richard Tall Bear Westerman.

The actor-musician appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, including recurring roles as Uncle Ray Firewalker on "Walker, Texas Ranger" and George Littlefox on "Dharma & Greg."

A well respected musician, he worked with Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Harry Belafonte, Jackson Browne and others.

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

Westerman continued to act until only a few months ago, completing work on the forthcoming Kevin Costner film "Swing Vote" in September.

Perhaps his most memorable movie role was in Costner's 1990 Western epic, "Dances with Wolves." He played the Sioux leader Ten Bears, who befriends Costner's character.

Westerman was also well known as an activist for environmental causes, the rights of American Indians and other indigenous people.

His debut album, released in 1970, was titled "Custer Died For Your Sins." Last year he released "A Tribute to Johnny Cash" to positive reviews.

In the 1990s, Westerman toured the world with Sting to raise money to preserve rainforests.

"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 on Aug. 17, 1936, on the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Sioux reservation in South Dakota.

As a youngster, he left the reservation to attend a government boarding school some 80 miles away. In keeping with policies at the time, the school frowned on his native culture.

"They cut his hair and they wouldn't allow him to speak the language," his son said. "He was a survivor of everything that the government has tried to do to native Americans."

Westerman graduated from a reservation high school, spent two years in the Marines and went on to earn a degree in secondary education from Northern State College in South Dakota.

He made his movie debut in 1989's "Renegades," playing the father of Lou Diamond Phillips' character. He was a shaman in Oliver Stone's 1991 movie "The Doors."

In addition to his son, Westerman is survived by his wife, Rosie, and daughters Jennifer Westerman of Arizona, Chante Westerman of Washington state, Nicky Jackson of Minneapolis and Chenoa Westerman of South Dakota.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

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