Studi, Wes 1947(?)–

views updated May 14 2018

STUDI, Wes 1947(?)–

(Wesley Studie)


Original name, Wesley Studie; born December 17, 1947 (some sources cite 1944), in Nofire Hollow, OK; son of Andy (a ranch hand) and Maggie (a housekeeper) Studie; married second wife, Rebecca Graves (a teacher), 1974 (divorced, 1982); married third wife, Maura Dhu (a singer and writer); children: (second marriage) Daniel, Leah; (third marriage) Kholan Garret. Education: Attended Tulsa Junior College. Avocational Interests: Sculpture, tennis, jazz guitar.


Manager—Michael Mann Talent, 617 South Olive, Suite 311, Los Angeles, CA 90014.


Actor, voice performer, writer, and director. Joined American Indian Theatre Company, 1983; Firecat of Discord (band), bass guitarist, beginning 1995, including U.S. tour, 2000; affiliated with Firecat Music; host of First Americans in the Arts awards presentations. Tulsa Indian News, Tulsa, OK, reporter; also worked as rancher and horse trainer, and a teacher of Cherokee language. Author and translator of books and plays; sculptor in soapstone and other soft stones. American Indian Movement, member, beginning 1973; active in Native American causes. Military service: U.S. Army, Infantry, 1967; served in Vietnam.

Awards, Honors:

First Americans in the Arts awards for performance, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995; Bronze Wrangler Award (with others), Western Heritage awards, outstanding theatrical motion picture, 1994, for Geronimo: An American Legend; First Americans in the Arts awards, best supporting actor and best actor in a nontraditional role, both 1998, for Deep Rising; Career Achievement Award, Dreamspeakers Festival, 1998; named Red Earth Ambassador of the Year, 1998; honoree, Tulsa Indian Art Festival, 1999; First Americans in the Arts Award, outstanding performance by a lead actor in a film, 2000, for Mystery Men; First Americans in the Arts Award, artist of the decade, 2000; Wordcraft Award, 2000; Eagle Spirit Award, American Indian Film Festival; some source cite a citation as most promising actor, Chicago Film Critics.


Film Appearances:

Bull, Powwow Highway, Warner Bros., 1988.

Toughest Pawnee, Dances with Wolves, Orion, 1990.

Indian in desert, The Doors, TriStar, 1991.

Magua, The Last of the Mohicans, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1992.

Title role, Geronimo: An American Legend, Columbia, 1993.

Victor Sagat, Street Fighter (also known as Street Fighter: The Battle for Shadaloo, Street Fighter: The Movie, and Street Fighter: The Ultimate Battle), Universal, 1994.

Detective Casals, Heat, Warner Bros., 1995.

Cameron, The Killing Jar, Curb Entertainment, 1996.

Lone Justice: Showdown at Plum Creek (also known as Lone Justice 3), 1996.

Bonnie Looksaway's Iron Art Wagon (short film), Firecat Music, 1997.

Hanover, Deep Rising, Buena Vista, 1998.

Pocatello, Wind River, c. 1998.

The Sphinx, Mystery Men, MCA/Universal, 1999.

Terry Leonard, Soundman, 1999.

Bingo caller, Christmas in the Clouds, Random Ventures/Stockbridge Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, 2001.

Commander Jonah Trager, Ice Planet, H5B5 Media, 2001.

Frank Lightfoot, Road to Redemption, WorldWide Pictures, 2001.

Narrator, Sze Bei (documentary), 2001.

Mingo Pace, Undisputed (also known as Undisputed—Sieg ohne Ruhm), Miramax, 2002.

Father Mike, The Ugly One, Buoy 22 Films, 2003.

(Scenes deleted) Chief Bowles (some sources cite Chief Bowl), The Alamo, Buena Vista, 2004.

Voice of Grandpa, Echoes from Juniper Canyon (short film), 2004.

Chief Thomas, Miracle at Sage Creek, American World Pictures, 2005.

Creeper, Animal, DEJ Productions, 2005.

Opechancanough, The New World, New Line Cinema, 2005.

A Thousand Roads (short film), 2005.

Film Director:

Bonnie Looksaway's Iron Art Wagon (short film), Firecat Music, 1997.

Television Appearances; Series:

One Horse, Ned Blessing: The Story of My Life and Times (also known as Lone Justice II and Return to Plum Creek), CBS, 1993.

Narrator, Ancient America (series of documentaries), 1994.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Famous Shoes, Streets of Laredo (also known as Larry McMurtry's "Streets of Laredo"), CBS, 1995.

Voice, 500 Nations, CBS, 1995.

Black Kettle, Into the West, TNT, 2005.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Long Runner, The Trial of Standing Bear, 1988.

Longarm, ABC, 1988.

Seth, chief, and speaker for the tribes, The Broken Chain, TNT, 1993.

Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, TNT, 1996.

Joe Nighttrail, Superfire (also known as Firefighter—Inferno in Oregon and Superfire—Inferno in Oregon), ABC, 2002.

Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, "Skinwalkers," Mystery!, PBS, 2002.

Cuch, Edge of America (also known as On the Edge), Showtime, 2003.

Kulakinah, The Lone Ranger, The WB, 2003.

Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn, Coyote Waits, PBS, 2003.

Joe Leaphorn, A Thief of Time, PBS, 2004.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Voice, "In the White Man's Image," The American Experience, PBS, 1992.

Voice of Crazy Horse, The Wild West, syndicated, 1993.

An American Reunion: New Beginnings, Renewed Hope (also known as An American Reunion: The People's Inaugural Celebration), HBO, 1993.

Narrator, Cherokee, the Principal People, 1994.

Narrator, Indian America: A Gift from the Past, PBS, 1994.

The 51st Annual Golden Globe Awards, TBS, 1994.

Voice, "The Way West," The American Experience, PBS, 1995.

Narrator, The Great Bears of North America, c. 1995.

Voice, In Search of the Oregon Trail, PBS, 1996.

Himself, Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western, TNT, 1997.

Voice of Payakan, The Amazon Warrior, TBS and syndicated, 1998.

Narrator, Wild Horses: An American Romance, PBS, 2000.

Narrator, Warrior in Two Worlds, PBS, 2001.

(In archive footage) Images of Indians: How Hollywood Stereotyped the Native American, Starz!, 2003.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Roller, "Sins of the Father," The Flash, CBS, 1990.

Sheriff Benson, "Mountain Men," Highlander (also known as Highlander: The Series), syndicated, 1992.

Jesse Rainbird, "Outrage," Promised Land, CBS, 1997.

Armando Uribe, "Hunting Armanado," UC: Undercover, NBC, 2002.

Himself, "The Films of Michael Mann" (also known as "Michael Mann"), The Directors, Encore, 2002.

Appeared in Adventures from the Book of Virtues (also known as The Book of Virtues (animated), PBS; also appeared in Storytime, PBS.

Stage Appearances:

Chitto Harjo, Indian Meadowlark, Tulsa, OK, 1996.

Black Elk, Black Elk Speaks, 1984, and Brady Theatre, Tulsa, OK, 1999.

Wolf in Camp, Santa Fe Performing Arts School, Santa Fe, NM, 2000.

Appeared in Bad Habits, Black Elk Speaks, The Royal Hunt of the Sun, and Ten Little Indians, all American Indian Theatre, Tulsa, OK; Don't Drink the Water and My Three Angels, both Gaslight Theatre, Tulsa, OK; and The Pendelton Blanket, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles.

Major Tours:

Toured in the solo show Coyote Chews His Own Tail.



Appeared as the host of the documentary Navajo Medicine.


People of the Wolf, 1991.

People of the River, 1993.


(With Firecat of Discord) Firecat of Discord, Firecat Music, 1999.


Writings for the Stage:

Author (with Maura Dhu) of the solo stage show Coyote Chews His Own Tail; translator into Cherokee language, The Kentucky Cycle (stage play).


(With Firecat of Discord) Firecat of Discord, Firecat Music, 1999.

Writings for Children:

(As Wesley Studie) The Adventures of Billy Bean, Cherokee Bilingual/Cross Cultural Education Center, 1982.

(As Wesley Studie) More Adventures of Billy Bean (also known as The Further Adventures of Billy Bean), Cherokee Bilingual/Cross Cultural Education Center, 1983.



Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, Gale, 1998.

Newsmakers 1994, Issue 4, Gale, 1994.


People Weekly, December 20, 1993, pp. 109–111.


Wes Studi Official Site,, January 7, 2005.

Wes Studi

views updated May 17 2018

Wes Studi

Wes Studi (born c. 1944) got a relatively late start as a film star—he was about 44 when he landed his first movie—but prior to that career move the Native American performer had compiled a list of real-life credits that included soldier, reporter and activist.

Born Wesley Studie—a full-blooded Cherokee—in rural Oklahoma, the eldest son of a ranch hand and a housekeeper, he was educated at an American Indian boarding school and got an early taste of how Native Americans were often treated off the reservation. As a boy, Studi and his friends would venture to nearby towns, where "all the shopkeepers got very careful when we walked in, " as he recalled to Mark Goodman in a People interview.

Served in Vietnam

Undaunted, Studi became a soldier in 1967, and eventually served in Vietnam. "At one point, " Goodman wrote, "his company was pinned down in the Mekong Delta—and nearly killed—by friendly fire." Not every Army memory was traumatic, though. As Studi related to Goodman, one day he and a fellow Native American recruit were "told we didn't have duty that particular day. The rest of the company went out on a two-day operation. When they came back, we learned they had relocated entire villages. I don't know that it had anything to do with the fact that many of our own people had been relocated, but it sort of struck me as funny."

An unfocused young man on his return stateside, Studi enrolled at Tulsa Junior College, which led to his participation in the Trail of Broken Treaties protest march in 1972, according to People. "He was one of the protesters who briefly occupied the Bureau of Indian Affairs, " Goodman noted. "The next year he joined the celebrated protest at Wounded Knee, [South Dakota], and was among those arrested on federal charges of insurrection." Studi was jailed on that charge, but earned a waiver after only a few days.

Soon afterward, Studi landed a job as reporter for the Tulsa Indian News, writing on Native American issues. For several years, Studi worked and ran a horse ranch in Tulsa. Then, in 1982, after divorcing his second wife, Studi felt a need to "build another life, " as he said in the People piece. He joined the American Indian Theater Company and by 1986 had moved to Los Angeles to pursue his craft. "At first Hollywood treated me like I wasn't there, " he remarked to Dana Kennedy in an Entertainment Weekly profile. "Then they treated me like I was marginally there, and now they treat me much better."

Lands Big Hollywood Roles

In 1988 Studi got his big break—a role in the acclaimed independent feature Powwow Highway. That role led to a small but intense part in the blockbuster Dances With Wolves. In the Kevin Costner-directed film, Studi was an "angry Pawnee warrior who scalps actor Robert Pastorelli, " Goodman wrote.

Next came another big role, in the popular remake of The Last of the Mohicans. Though the film itself received mixed reviews, many critics took special note of Studi's performance—New York magazine's David Denby went so far as to say that "only vicious Magua, played by the striking Cherokee actor Wes Studi, seems like a flesh-and-blood man."

In 1993 Studi landed his most important acting role to date—the title role in Geronimo. As the legendary Chiricahua Apache leader who waged a determined—and, ultimately, ill-fated—campaign against the U.S. Army, Studi crafted a layered performance. "Photographs of Geronimo in his prime show a man with a fierce, implacable demeanor and the stocky physique of a defensive lineman, " stated New Yorker critic Terrence Rafferty. "Wes Studi … has a lean, wiry frame, but he nonetheless manages to convey, superbly, the essential quality of those photographs, which is the gravity of Geronimo's idea of himself." While Geronimo didn't pack in the audiences the way Dances With Wolves and Mohicans had, Studi earned virtually unanimous praise.

While Studi's roles have leaned toward the grimly dramatic, those close to the actor know another side. "All you see is the stoic guy onscreen, " fellow Native American actor Rodney Grant told Goodman. "People don't realize how humorous he is." And how versatile; according to the article, Studi has "written two children's books in Cherokee and even translated the Pulitzer Prize-winning play The Kentucky Cycle into that language." "I'm a Cherokee first and an American later, " explained Studi in Entertainment Weekly. "While I may forgive, I will never forget—and I will pass that feeling on to my own kids."

Further Reading

Entertainment Weekly, December 24, 1993; November 10, 1995.

New York, September 28, 1992

New Yorker, January 10, 1994.

People, December 20, 1993. □