Wes Studi

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Wes Studi
Studi at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, December 7, 2008
BornWesley Studie
(1947-12-17) December 17, 1947 (age 67)
Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma
Years active1988–present
Spouse(s)Maura Dhu
Jump to: navigation, search
Wes Studi
Studi at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, December 7, 2008
BornWesley Studie
(1947-12-17) December 17, 1947 (age 67)
Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma
Years active1988–present
Spouse(s)Maura Dhu

Wesley "Wes" Studi (born December 17, 1947) is an award-winning full-blood Native American actor and film producer from the Cherokee Nation, Oklahoma near Tahlequah, and who has won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Native Americans in film.[1][2]

He has appeared in well-received Academy Award-winning films, such as Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves, Michael Mann's The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and the Academy Award-nominated films Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) and The New World (2005). He portrayed General Linus Abner (an analogue to the biblical Abner) in the NBC series Kings, and Eytukan in James Cameron's box office blockbuster Avatar.

Early life and education[edit]

Studi was born Wesley Studi in No Fire Hollow, Oklahoma, a rural area near Tahlequah named after his mother's family.[3] He is the son of Maggie Studie, a housekeeper, and Andy Studie, a ranch hand.[4] Until he attended grade school, he spoke only Cherokee at home.[5]

In 1967, he was drafted into the Army and served 18 months in Vietnam. After his discharge, Studi became politically active and participated in the Wounded Knee Incident at Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973.[5]

He taught classes in the Cherokee language and syllabary (writing system), and helped found a Cherokee-language newspaper. He went into ranching. After his marriage ended in divorce, Studi left ranching and started to study acting - a friend had recommended it as a place to meet women.[2]


Studi promoting healthy living among Native Americans in a CDC ad.

Studi appeared in his first film, The Trial of Standing Bear, in 1988.[3] He is best known for his roles as ruthless Native American warriors, such as a Pawnee in Dances with Wolves (1990), and Magua in The Last of the Mohicans (1992).[5][6]

A year later, he was cast with Eric Schweig for TNT's film The Broken Chain, about the Iroquois League based in present-day New York state. It was shot in Virginia. This was part of a group of productions shown over 14 months on TNT as its "Native American initiative", including three television movies and several documentaries. A six-hour history series was told from the Native Americans' perspective.[2]

In 1993 Studi had the lead in Geronimo: An American Legend.[7] He showed a talent for comedy as the superhero Sphynx in the 1999 film Mystery Men. In 2002, Studi brought to life the character of Lt. Joe Leaphorn, for a series of PBS movies based on Tony Hillerman's novels set in the Southwest among the Navajo and Hopi. It was produced by Robert Redford.

In 2005, Studi portrayed a character based on the Powhatan chief Opechancanough in The New World, directed by Terrence Malick.

On April 20, 2009 Studi appeared as Major Ridge, a leader of the Cherokee before removal to Indian Territory, in Trail of Tears, the third episode of five in the PBS series We Shall Remain, portraying critical episodes in Native American history after European encounter.[8] The ground-breaking mini-series affirms Native history as an essential part of American history, and is part of the public television's acclaimed series American Experience. Studi spoke only his native Cherokee in his performance.

In 2009, Studi appeared in James Cameron's science fiction epic Avatar. He played Eytukan, the chieftain of a Na'vi tribe.

In Santa Fe, Studi serves as honorary chair of the national endowment campaign of the Indigenous Language Institute.[3]

Personal life[edit]

After an early marriage and divorce, Studi married again. He and his wife Maura Dhu Studi have three children, and in the 1990s moved to a ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico.[2] Studi and his wife perform in the band "Firecat of Discord". They have a son, Kholan. Studi has a daughter, Leah, and a son, Daniel, from a previous marriage.[9]

DUI Incident[edit]

On July 26, 2013, Studi was arrested in Santa Fe, New Mexico for driving under the influence of alcohol after refusing a field sobriety test.[10] During the ensuing altercation with police, Studi reportedly used racist and sexist comments toward a white officer. Studi later apologized.[11]



1989Powwow HighwayBuff
1990Dances with WolvesToughest Pawnee
1990The FlashRollerepisode: Sins of the Father
1991The DoorsIndian in Desert
1992The Last of the MohicansMagua
1993Geronimo: An American LegendGeronimo
1994Street FighterSagat
1994The 51st Annual Golden Globe AwardsHimself/Presenter
1995Lone Justice 2One Horse
HeatDetective Lou Casals
Streets of Laredo(Famous Shoes) Indian friend of Pea EyeTV
500 NationsVoiceTV mini-series
The Way WestVoiceTV movie Documentary
1996The Killing JarCameron
1997Crazy HorseRed CloudTV
1997Adventures from the Book of VirtuesScarfaceepisode: Perseverance
1997Promised LandJesse Rainbirdepisode: Outrage
1997Big Guns Talk: The Story of the WesternHimselfTV movie Documentary
1998Deep RisingHanover
The Horse Whispererparks guard
SoundmanTerry Leonard
1999Mystery MenThe Sphinx
2001Ice PlanetCommander Trager
Christmas in the CloudsBingo Caller
Road to RedemptionFrank Lightfoot
The DirectorsHimselfepisode: The Films of Michael Mann
2002UndisputedMingo Pace
SkinwalkersLt. Joe Leaphorn
2003Edge of AmericaCuch
The Ugly OneFather Mike
Coyote WaitsLt. Joe Leaphorn
The Lone RangerKulakinahTV movie
2004Echoes from Juniper CanyonGrandpaVoice
A Thief of TimeLt. Joe Leaphorn
2005Into the WestBlack Kettle
Miracle at Sage CreekChief Thomas
The Making of 'Miracle at Sage Creek'Himself/Chief Thomas
The New WorldOpechancanough
2006Three PriestsBen
The Making of the New WorldHimself/OpechancanoughVideo Documentary
The Trail of Tears: Cherokee LegacyHimself/Presenter
2007Seraphim FallsCharon
Bury My Heart at Wounded KneeWovoka
2008Comanche MoonBuffalo HumpTV
Older Than AmericaRichard Two Rivers
Trail of TearsMajor Ridge
KingsGeneral Linus Abner
The Only Good IndianSam Franklin (main character)Executive Producer
2010The MentalistJoseph Silverwingepisode: Aingavite Baa
2010The Making of 'Last of the Mohicans'HimselfVideo Documentary
2011Hell on WheelsChief Many HorsesTV
Images of Indians: How Hollywood Stereotyped the Native AmericanHimself/Toughest PawneeTV movie Documentary
2012Being FlynnCaptain
Road to PalomaNumay
BattledogsCaptain Falcons
2014Planes: Fire & RescueWindlifterVoice
A Million Ways to Die in the WestCochise


  1. ^ Galbraith, Jane (1993-12-14). "Q&A WITH WES STUDI : 'I Came Into the Business at the Right Time'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d Kevin Carter (222 December 1993). "Actor Champions Indian Heritage". Philadelphia Inquirer (Orlando Sentinel). Retrieved 2010-12-12.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Wes Studi", Native Networks, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
  4. ^ [1]
  5. ^ a b c Lewis Beale (1993-12-16). "Wes (`Geronimo') Studi Wary Of Political Correctness". New York Daily News (Chicago Tribune). Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  6. ^ Kevin L. Carter (1993-12-19). "YELLING GERONIMO! WES STUDI'S FILM AND TV ROLES ALLOW HIM TO WALK IN HIS ANCESTORS' SHOES". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  7. ^ a b National Cowboy Museum official site, retrieved February 7, 2008.
  8. ^ We Shall Remain, 5-part series, American Experience, PBS. Note: The five-part series is available online for viewing at this website.
  9. ^ Wes Studi, biography, IMDB
  10. ^ http://www.krqe.com/dpp/news/crime/actor-wes-studi-arrested-for-dwi-in-nm
  11. ^ http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S3113831.shtml?cat=504

External links[edit]