What Does The "Academie Francais" Do?

I understand that this very prestigious body was set up by Cardinal Richeliu in 1665, and that being appointed to it is very desireable. You get to wear a spiffy uniform (and a sword)…but exactly what are your duties as an academician?
Can an American be a member?

I believe that the Academie’s main task is to maintain the French language. The organization publishes a dictionary which is the official word on the language. These days their struggle probably is against “franglais” and the intrusion of other such crummy foreign influences into the language.

If you can read French try this for more info on l’Académie française