Saginaw Grant, a longtime Native American character actor, died on Wednesday, July 28. Grant, who was also the hereditary chief of the Sac and Fox Nation of Oklahoma, was 85. Grant began acting in the late 1980s and played Native American characters in episodes of Breaking Bad, Shameless, American Horror Story, and Community in recent years. He also played Chief Big Bear in the 2013 Johnny Depp movie The Lone Ranger.
Grant died in his sleep of natural causes at a private health care facility in Hollywood, his publicist, Lani Charmichael, told the Associated Press. "He loved both Oklahoma and L.A.," Charmichael said. "He made his home here as an actor, but he never forgot his roots in Oklahoma. He remained a fan of the Sooner Nation." Grant's motto was "always respect one another and don't talk about one another in a negative way," Charmichael added.
The actor's representatives announced Grant's death on Facebook. "Saginaw was always happiest at pow wow sharing the love, energy, and tradition of his people," the statement read. "Watching the children grow in the traditions of their ancestors and to share in the spirits of dance to the beat of the drum brought him both joy and peace. He enjoyed competing in dance and did so up until Covid temporarily halted gatherings."
Grant turned to acting late in life and was first seen on screen in the 1988 movie War Party. He had over 50 credits to his name, including episodes of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Harts of the West, Nash Bridges, My Name Is Earl, Family Tree, Shameless, and Community. He appeared in the acclaimed 2013 Breaking Bad episode "Ozymandias." He also had a role in Adam Sandler's 2015 Netflix Western comedy The Ridiculous 6.
In addition to acting, Grant was active in the Native American veterans' community, as he served in the Korean War with the Marines. He often attended the National Gathering of American Indian Veterans. "He thought it was important for Native people to get recognized as veterans," organizer Joseph Podlasek told the AP. "He was kind and gentle, and very humble."
Grant is survived by his daughter, Lisa Grant, daughter-in-law Dodie L. Kent, grandchildren Cassandra and Vanessa Kent, and four great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his two brothers, an adopted son, an adopted daughter and many nieces and nephews in Oklahoma. Grant "traveled the world speaking of his traditions, his experiences, his sobriety and his faith as both a Native American and a Christian," his representatives wrote.