Studi at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, December 7, 2008
December 17, 1947
Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma
He has appeared in Academy Award-winning films, such as Dances with Wolves (1990) and The Last of the Mohicans (1992), and in the Academy Award-nominated films Geronimo: An American Legend (1993) and The New World (2005). He is also known for portraying Sagat in Street Fighter (1994). Other films he's appeared in are Heat, Mystery Men, Avatar, "A Million Ways to Die in the West", and the television series Penny Dreadful.
Early life and education
Studi was born Wesley Studi in a Cherokee family in Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, a rural area in Tahlequah named after his mother's family. He is the son of Maggie Studie, a housekeeper, and Andy Studie, a ranch hand. Until he attended grade school, he spoke only Cherokee at home. He attended Chilocco Indian Agricultural School for high school and graduated in 1964; his vocational major was in dry cleaning.
In 1967, Studi was drafted into the Army and served 18 months in Vietnam. After his discharge, Studi became politically active in American Indian activism. He participated in the Wounded Knee Incident at Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973.
He taught Cherokee language and syllabary 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.
Studi appeared in his first film, The Trial of Standing Bear, in 1988. 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).
A year later, he was cast with Eric Schweig for TNT's film The Broken Chain, about the historic Iroquois League that was based in the area of central and western 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 a Native American perspective.
In 1993 Studi had the lead in Geronimo: An American Legend. 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.
On April 20, 2009 Studi appeared as Major Ridge, a leader of the Cherokee before removal to Indian Territory, in Trail of Tears. This was the third of five episodes in the PBS series We Shall Remain, portraying critical episodes in Native American history after European encounter. The ground-breaking mini-series affirms Native history as an essential part of American history. It is part of the public television's acclaimed series American Experience. Studi spoke only his native Cherokee in his performance.
In Santa Fe, Studi serves as honorary chair of the national endowment campaign of the Indigenous Language Institute.
After an early marriage and divorce, Studi married again. He and his wife Maura Dhu Studi moved their family to a farm near Santa Fe, New Mexico in the early 1990s. They have a son, Kholan. Studi has a daughter, Leah, and a son, Daniel, from his first marriage. Studi and his wife perform in the band "Firecat of Discord".
- 1994, Won a Western Heritage Award (shared with cast and crew) for Geronimo: An American Legend (1993).
- 1998, The Dreamspeakers Film and Festival honored Studi with its Career Achievement Award.
- 2000, Motion Picture and Television Fund's Golden Boot Award.
- 2000, Artist of the Decade at the First Americans in the Arts Awards.
- 2005, The New World was nominated for an Academy Award.
- 2013, Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers - Western Heritage Award, Oklahoma City, OK
|1990||Dances with Wolves||Toughest Pawnee|
|1990||The Flash||Roller||episode: Sins of the Father|
|1991||The Doors||Indian in Desert|
|1992||The Last of the Mohicans||Magua|
|1993||Geronimo: An American Legend||Geronimo|
|1993||The Broken Chain||Seth||TV movie|
|1994||The 51st Annual Golden Globe Awards||Himself/Presenter|
|1995||Lone Justice 2||One Horse|
|Heat||Detective Sammy Casals|
|Streets of Laredo||(Famous Shoes) Indian friend of Pea Eye||TV|
|500 Nations||Voice||TV mini-series|
|The Way West||Voice||TV movie Documentary|
|1996||The Killing Jar||Cameron|
|1997||Crazy Horse||Red Cloud||TV|
|1997||Adventures from the Book of Virtues||Scarface||episode: Perseverance|
|1997||Promised Land||Jesse Rainbird||episode: Outrage|
|1997||Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western||Himself||TV movie Documentary|
|The Horse Whisperer||parks guard|
|1999||Mystery Men||The Sphinx|
|2001||Ice Planet||Commander Trager|
|Christmas in the Clouds||Bingo Caller|
|Road to Redemption||Frank Lightfoot|
|The Directors||Himself||episode: The Films of Michael Mann|
|Skinwalkers||Lt. Joe Leaphorn|
|2003||Edge of America||Cuch|
|The Ugly One||Father Mike|
|Coyote Waits||Lt. Joe Leaphorn|
|The Lone Ranger||Kulakinah||TV movie|
|2004||Echoes from Juniper Canyon||Grandpa||Voice|
|A Thief of Time||Lt. Joe Leaphorn|
|2005||Into the West||Black Kettle|
|Miracle at Sage Creek||Chief Thomas|
|The Making of 'Miracle at Sage Creek'||Himself/Chief Thomas|
|The New World||Opechancanough|
|The Making of the New World||Himself/Opechancanough||Video Documentary|
|The Trail of Tears: Cherokee Legacy||Himself/Presenter|
|Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee||Wovoka|
|2008||Comanche Moon||Buffalo Hump||TV|
|Older Than America||Richard Two Rivers|
|Trail of Tears||Major Ridge|
|Kings||General Linus Abner|
|The Only Good Indian||Sam Franklin (main character)||Executive Producer|
|2010||The Mentalist||Joseph Silverwing||episode: Aingavite Baa|
|2010||The Making of 'Last of the Mohicans'||Himself||Video Documentary|
|2011||Hell on Wheels||Chief Many Horses||TV|
|Images of Indians: How Hollywood Stereotyped the Native American||Himself/Toughest Pawnee||TV movie Documentary|
|Road to Paloma||Numay|
|2014||A Million Ways to Die in the West||Cochise|
|Planes: Fire & Rescue||Windlifter||Voice|
|2015||The Red Road||Chief Levi Gall|
|The Condemned 2||Cyrus Merrick|
|2017||Hostiles||Chief Yellow Hawk|
- McDonnell, Brandy (13 June 2014). "Wes Studi among 4 Oklahoma Film Icons being honored at this weekend's deadCenter Film Festival". NewsOK. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
- 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.
- Kevin Carter (22 December 1993). "Actor Champions Indian Heritage". Philadelphia Inquirer. Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- "Wes Studi", Native Networks, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
- Lewis Beale (1993-12-16). "Wes (`Geronimo') Studi Wary Of Political Correctness". New York Daily News. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-12-12.
- The Chilocco Annual, 1964, National Archives and Records Administration
- 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.
- National Cowboy Museum official site, retrieved February 7, 2008.
- We Shall Remain, 5-part series, American Experience, PBS. Note: The five-part series is available online for viewing at this website.
- Wes Studi, biography, IMDB