American Indian Actor Wes Studi

Celebrities, Celebrity Q&A, People
on August 24, 2003

What can you tell me about actor Wes Studi? Is he an American Indian and what's his background?
—Linda R., Texas

The 55-year-old actor and director is a Cherokee Indian, born in Nofire Hollow, Okla. He grew up speaking the Cherokee language, learning English when he started grade school. A veteran of the Vietnam War, Studi returned home in 1969 to a divided country and no idea about what he wanted to do with his life. After drifting for a while, he decided to attend college under the GI Bill, and there he got involved with the American Indian Movement and began working for the Cherokee Nation. It wasn't until 1981 that he decided to become an actor, after joining a community theater group. He appeared onstage in Tulsa and Los Angeles, wrote and performed his own play, and got his first movie role in 1989's Pow Wow Highway. He followed that with Dances With Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans, two high-profile parts that earned him both critical acclaim and a degree of fame. He's also written two children's books for the Cherokee Bilingual/Cross Cultural Education Center, plays in a band called Firecat of Discord, and carves artworks out of soapstone. He has an official fan club, which can be joined by visiting his website, He now makes his home in Sante Fe, N.M. He and his wife Maura have one child, Kholan, and he has two other children, Daniel and Leah, from a previous marriage. Next up for him in the movies: The Alamo.