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Tootoosis in the 1970s
October 25, 1941|
Poundmaker Reserve, Saskatchewan, Canada
|Died||July 5, 2011
|Cause of death||Pneumonia|
|Resting place||Poundmaker Reserve, Saskatchewan|
|Children||Alanna Tootoosis, Glynis Tootoosis (deceased), Disa Tootoosis|
Gordon Tootoosis CM (October 25, 1941 – July 5, 2011) was an Aboriginal Canadian actor. He was of Cree and Stoney descent. Tootoosis was a descendant of Yellow Mud Blanket, brother of the famous Cree leader Pitikwahanapiwiyin. He was acclaimed for his commitment to preserving his culture and to telling his people's stories. He served as a founding member of the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company. Tootoosis offered encouragement, support and training to aspiring Aboriginal actors. He served as a leading Cree activist both as a social worker and as a band chief. In Open Season and Boog and Elliot's Midnight Bun Run, Tootoosis was the voice of Sheriff Gordy.
He was awarded membership in the Order of Canada on October 29, 2004. The investiture ceremony took place on September 9, 2005. His citation recognizes him as an inspirational role model for Aboriginal youth. It notes that as a veteran actor, he portrayed memorable characters in movie and television productions in Canada and the United States.
His first acting role was in the film Alien Thunder (1974), with Chief Dan George and Donald Sutherland. He portrayed Albert Golo in 52 episodes of North of 60 in the 1990s. He is best known to British audiences for playing the Native American Joe Saugus, who negotiates the purchase of the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet series 3 (2002). Gordon appeared in the CBC Television mini-series By Way of the Stars with Eric Schweig as Black Thunder and Tantoo Cardinal as Franoise. He appeared in the award-winning movie Legends of the Fall (1994), and starred with Russell Means in Disney's Pocahontas (1995) and Song of Hiawatha (1997). In 1999, he and Tantoo Cardinal became founding members of the board of directors of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company. In 2011, he appeared in Gordon Winter at the Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon and Prairie Scene in Ottawa, his first stage role in 15 years.
Personal life and death
Tootoosis was raised with his 13 siblings in the Plains Cree tradition until he was taken from his home (placing First Nations children into residential schools was Canadian federal government policy at the time) and placed in a Catholic residential school, 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. After his traumatic school years, 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. His father was one of the founders of the National Indian Brotherhood and former head of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN). Gordon himself served as the chief of his band and as a vice-president of FSIN. Tootoosis was married to Irene Seseequasis since 1965. They have three daughters, Glynis, Alanna and Disa, three sons, Lee, Winston Bear, and Clint, his adopted daughters Rebecca Brady, Bertrille Fox, Irene Oaks, Patrice Kautzman, Danielle Thunderchild, René Daoust-Thompson, Melanie Favel, and adopted son Derek Thompson. After their daughter Glynnis died of cancer in 1997, they took the responsibility of raising her four children in Saskatoon.
Tootoosis died on July 5, 2011, aged 69, after being hospitalized for pneumonia at St. Paul's Hospital in Saskatoon. His funeral and interment were held on the Poundmaker Cree Nation Reserve in Cut Knife. In 2015, the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company changed its name to the Gordon Tootoosis Nīkānīwin Theatre Company in honor of Tootoosis.
- Alien Thunder (1974) — Almighty Voice
- Red Serge (1986–87)
- Stone Fox (1987) — Stone Fox
- Airwolf - episodes - Salvage & Welcome to Paradise - (1987) - Charlie Rising Moon
- MacGyver - episode - Mask of the Wolf (1988) - Perry
- Friday the 13th: The Series (1989, TV, Season 2, episode #50, "The Shaman's Apprentice") — Spotted Owl
- Black Robe (1991) — Old Aenons
- MacGyver - episode - Trail of Tears (1991) - Phil Crow
- Leaving Normal (1992) — Hank Amaruk
- By Way of the Stars (1992 TV mini-series) — The Cree Chief
- North of 60 (1992, TV series) — Albert Golo
- Lakota Moon (1992, TV movie) - Rolling Thunder
- Call of the Wild (1993) (TV) — Charlie
- Hawkeye (1994)
- Lonesome Dove: The Series (1994) - Indian John
- Legends of the Fall (1994) — One Stab
- Pocahontas (1995) — Kekata (voice)
- 500 Nations (1995)
- Lone Star (1996) — Wesley Birdsong
- Four Directions: A Canoe for the Making (1996)
- Crazy Horse (1996) — Akicita
- Alaska (1996) — Ben Quincy General Store
- Song of Hiawatha (1997) — Iagoo
- Keeping the Promise (1997)- Chief Saknis
- Forgotten Warriors (1997, Documentary short) - Narrator
- The Gift of the Grandfathers (1997, TV Short documentary) - Narrator
- The Edge (1997) — Jack Hawk
- Dead Man's Gun (1998, TV series episode: The Trapper) - Charlie Three Claws
- The Magnificent Seven - episode - Manhunt (1998) - Chief Ko-Je
- Due South: Easy Money (1998) (TV)- Quinn
- Big Bear (TV) mini series : Chief Big Bear (1998)
- Que la lumière soit (1998) — Indian God
- Pocahontas: The Legend (1999) — Chief Powhatan
- Reindeer Games (2000) — Old Governor
- Dream Storm: A North of 60 Mystery (2001) (TV) — Albert Golo
- Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (2002) — Joe Saugus
- Now & Forever (2002) — Ghost Fox
- Dreamkeeper (2003) (TV) — Kills Enemy
- Moccasin Flats (2003-2006) - Joe Redsky
- Seven Times Lucky (2004)
- The Making of 'DreamKeeper' (2004, Video documentary short) - Himself
- Smallville (2004) (TV) — Joseph Willowbrook
- Into the West (2005) (TV) — Growling Bear
- Shania: A Life in Eight Albums (2005) — Greey Twain
- Hank Williams First Nation (2005) — Adelard Fox
- Shoebox Zoo (2005) - Nathaniel Stonebear
- The Spirit of Norway House (2005, TV Movie documentary) - Narrator
- Dream Makers (2006, Documentary) - Himself
- Open Season (2006) — Sheriff Gordy (voice)
- Boog and Elliot's Midnight Bun Run (2006) — Sheriff Gordy (voice)
- Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007) — Red Cloud
- Out in the Cold (2008) — Soft as Snow
- Wapos Bay: The Series (2005–2010) — Mushom (voice)
- For Love of Liberty: The Story of America's Black Patriots (2010, TV Movie documentary)
- Blackstone (2011)
- Doomsday Prophecy (2011) - John
- Guns, Girls and Gambling (2011)
- Wise, Wyndham. "Gordon Tootoosis". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- "Gordon Tootoosis, C.M.". Order of Canada. Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- Fuller, Cam (July 7, 2011). "Tootoosis remembered for arts, spirituality and public service". Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Retrieved 2011-07-08.
- Eastman, Charles Alexander; Trosper, James (2009). Michael Oren Fitzgerald, ed. Living in Two Worlds: The American Indian Experience. Bloomington, Indiana: World Wisdom. p. 204. ISBN 978-1-933316-76-5.
- Chung, Amy (July 5, 2011). "Canadian actor and First Nations leader Gordon Tootoosis dead at 69". The Vancouver Sun. Postmedia Network. Archived from the original on July 9, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-06.
- "Actor Gordon Tootoosis dies: family". CBC News. July 5, 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-05.
- "Actor Gordon Tootoosis funeral held on home reserve". CBC.ca. 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2011-07-09.