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Wes Studi

Studi at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, December 7, 2008
Born Wesley Studie
December 17, 1947 (1947-12-17) (age 62)
Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1988–present
Spouse(s) Maura Dhu

Wesley "Wes" Studi (born December 17, 1947) is an American Cherokee actor, who has earned notability for his portrayals of American Indians in film. 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, the award-winning Geronimo: An American Legend[1] and Academy Award-nominated The New World (2005). He most recently 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

Studi was born Wesley Studie in Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, the son of Maggie, a housekeeper, and Andy Studie, a ranch hand.[2] Studi was schooled at Chilocco Indian Agricultural School in Northern Oklahoma. Until he attended grade school, he spoke only Cherokee. In 1967, he was drafted into the Army and served 18 months in Vietnam. After his discharge, Studi studied at Tulsa Junior College.


Studi became an actor, best known for roles as both brave and ruthless Indians, such as the Pawnee warrior in Dances with Wolves, 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 which was shot in Virginia. In 1993 Studi had the lead in Geronimo: An American Legend.[3] In 2002, Studi brought to life the legendary character Lt. Joe Leaphorn, for a series of PBS movies based on Tony Hillerman's novels and produced by Robert Redford.

In 2005, Studi portrayed a character based on Powhatan chief Opechancanough in The New World. The 2005 Academy Award-nominated film was directed by Terrence Malick. The historical adventure is set during the founding of the Jamestown, Virginia settlement. Lead characters were based on historical figures, such as Captain John Smith (played by Colin Farrell) and Pocahontas. Much of the film was shot at Virginia locations in James City County and Charles City County, not far from where the first permanent English colony in the New World was established at Jamestown beginning on May 14, 1607.

On April 20, 2009 Studi appeared as Major Ridge in Trail of Tears, the third episode of We Shall Remain,[4] a ground breaking mini-series that establishes Native history as an essential part of American history from PBS's acclaimed series American Experience. He spoke his native Cherokee throughout the performance.


  • Studi won a Western Heritage Award (shared with cast and crew) in 1994 for Geronimo: An American Legend[3]
  • 2005, The New World was nominated for an Academy Award.


Year Film Role Notes
1989 Powwow Highway Buff
1990 Dances with Wolves Toughest Pawnee
1991 The Doors Indian in Desert
1992 The Last of the Mohicans Magua
1993 Geronimo: An American Legend Geronimo
1993 The Broken Chain Seth / Chief / Speaker for the Tribes
1994 Street Fighter Victor Sagat
1995 Lone Justice 2 One Horse
Heat Detective Casals
1996 The Killing Jar Cameron
1997 Crazy Horse Red Cloud TV
1998 Deep Rising Hanover
The Horse Whisperer parks guard
Soundman Terry Leonard
1999 Mystery Men The Sphinx
2001 Ice Planet Commander Trager
Christmas in the Clouds Bingo Caller
Road to Redemption Frank Lightfoot
2002 Undisputed Mingo Pace
Skinwalkers Lt. Joe Leaphorn
2003 Edge of America Cuch
The Ugly One Father Mike
2004 Echoes from Juniper Canyon Grandpa Voice
2005 Into the West Black Kettle
Animal Creeper Voice
Miracle at Sage Creek Chief Thomas
The New World Opechancanough
2006 Three Priests Ben
2007 Seraphim Falls Native Water Guardian
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee Wovoka
2008 Comanche Moon Buffalo Hump TV
The Only Good Indian Sam Executive Producer
2009 Avatar Eytukan
Trail of Tears Major Ridge
Kings General Linus Abner


  1. ^ National Cowboy Museum official site, retrieved February 7, 2008
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b National Cowboy Museum official site, retrieved February 7, 2008.
  4. ^ PBS's We Shall Remain

External links



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