Gordon Tootoosis

Gordon Tootoosis, actor (b at Poundmaker IR near Cutknife, Sask 25 Oct 1941; d at Saskatoon, 5 Jul 2011). Gordon Tootoosis, a descendant of Yellow Mud Blanket, who was a brother of the legendary Plains CREE leader POUNDMAKER, was raised with his 13 siblings in the Plains Cree tradition until he was taken from his home and placed in one of the infamous Catholic RESIDENTIAL SCHOOLS, where he was treated harshly and forbidden to speak his own language. His father, John Tootoosis, was an activist for aboriginal rights, which got the younger Tootoosis into trouble at school. John Tootoosis went on to become one of the founders of the ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS and the founder of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN), and Gordon served as chief of his band and vice-president of FSIN.

After his traumatic school years, Gordon Tootoosis went into social work, specializing in work with children and young offenders. His interest in his own cultural traditions led him to become an accomplished native dancer and rodeo roper, and he toured with the Plains InterTribal Dance Troupe in the 1960s and 1970s throughout Canada, Europe and South America, becoming one of North America's most popular powwow announcers. He broke into film in 1972 as Almighty Voice in the Canadian feature Alien Thunder, starring Donald SUTHERLAND and Chief Dan GEORGE, one of his idols. He then appeared in many theatre, television, film and radio productions, including the GENIE AWARD-winning BLACK ROBE and the Oscar-winning Legends of the Fall with Brad Pitt, Sir Anthony Hopkins and fellow Canadian actor Tantoo CARDINAL. He played Chief Red Cloud in the TV movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

Other film credits include Leaving Normal (with Meg Tilly), Lone Star (with Kris Kristofferson), Alaska (with Charlton Heston), Seven Times Lucky and Hank Williams First Nation. He became well known for his recurring role as the villainous Albert Golo in the popular CBC-TV series North of 60 (1992-97), for which he was nominated twice for a GEMINI AWARD. Other television credits include Lonesome Dove: The Series, The X-Files, Northern Exposure, MacGyver, Due South, the lead in the CBC miniseries Big Bear, again with his friend Tantoo Cardinal, and One Dead Indian, about the tragic Iperwash standoff in Ontario. He appeared in recurring roles in the TV series Mocassin Flats, Hank Williams' First Nation, Wapos Bay and Blackstone.

He starred in Saskatchewan playwright Kenneth T. Williams's Gordon Winter at the PERSEPHONE THEATRE in Saskatoon in 2010 before touring with the play to the Prairie Scene festival in Ottawa

Married in 1965, Tootoosis and his wife Irene raised a family of three daughters and two adopted sons and continued to live on the Poundmaker Cree Nation in Saskatchewan. After losing a daughter to cancer in 1997, they began raising her four children.

Tootoosis overcame a troubled childhood and alcoholism to become an exceptional role model for his fellow Plains Cree and others across the nation. He was a founding member of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company and a member of the ORDER OF CANADA.