Michael Sturdevant, 60; Led Tribe’s Takeover of Wisconsin Monastery

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Michael Sturdevant, 60, the leader of a 1975 Menominee Indian takeover of a monastery near Gresham, Wis., died of cancer Jan. 10 in Madison, Wis.

Sturdevant drew national attention when he and about 45 members of the tribe took over the abandoned 84-room Alexian Brothers Novitiate on New Year’s Day 1975.

Their goal was to turn the former mansion into an American Indian hospital.

Leaders of the American Indian Movement, including Russell Means -- along with actor Marlon Brando and Father James Groppi, a Milwaukee activist -- joined the 34-day protest at the estate.

Then-Gov. Patrick Lucey called out the Wisconsin National Guard during the siege because the group was armed and threatening local law enforcement officials.


The monks agreed to deed the property to the Menominee tribe for $1, but the tribe had to reimburse the Catholic order for the property’s value.

Sturdevant, often called “the General,” was jailed after the standoff.

He later worked as a tribal tax commissioner and as a reporter for the Menominee Tribal News.