Wes Studi Biography
Birthplace: Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma
Wes Studi is a full-blooded Cherokee who spoke only Cherokee until he went to school. After serving in Vietnam, he returned to Oklahoma where he worked as a reporter for The Cherokee Advocate. He became involved with the American Indian Movement and was at Wounded Knee in 1973. His interest in acting was spurred by his involvement with the American Indian Theatre Company in Tulsa. Studi then moved to Los Angeles and got small parts in television and movies. He was cast as the Toughest Pawnee in Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves (1990) and Magua in The Last of the Mohicans (1992). In 1995 he appeared with Al Pacino and Robert De Niro in Heat (1995) and in 1999's Mystery Men he was The Sphinx. He plays the role of Joe Leaphorn in PBS's productions of Tony Hillerman's Navajo novels, Skinwalkers (2002), Coyote Waits (2003), and A Thief of Time (2003). He played the role of Opechancanough in Terrence Malick's film, The New World (2005). Studi has written two children's books, is a sculptor, and is a member of the band Firecat of Discord.