National Indian Gaming Association to honor Native American Actor & Producer Wes Studi with the Chairman’s Leadership Award at Indian Gaming 2018

Washington, D.C. – April 03, 2018 – The National Indian Gaming Association announced today that they will be honoring Native American Film Actor, Producer and Director Wes Studi, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation with the coveted Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Each year the Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a Native American individual who has shown an exceptional representation of Native America.

National Indian Gaming Association Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. said: “We want to celebrate the outstanding contribution of Wes to the film and television industry and Indian country. Throughout his career as an actor, he has been responsible for dispelling and educating the film and television industry about the true portrayal of our Native American culture and people.” 

From a small tribal community on the Cherokee Nation to internationally acclaimed actor and musician, Wes Studi credits his passion and multi-faceted background for his powerful character portrayals that forever changed a Hollywood stereotype. Within a few years of his arrival in Hollywood, Studi caught the attention of the public in Dances with Wolves (1990). In 1992, his dominant performance as "Magua" in The Last of the Mohicans (1992) established him as one of the most compelling actors in the business.

Studi has since appeared in more than 80 film and television productions, including Geronimo: An American Legend (1993), Being Flynn (2012), Avatar (2009), Comanche Moon (2008), Streets of Laredo (1995), Mystery Men (1999), Kings (TV Series), The New World (2005), Hell on Wheels (2011), Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007) and Seraphim Falls (2006). He also brought Tony Hillerman’s "Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn" to life in a series of PBS specials produced by Robert Redford: Skinwalkers (2002), Coyote Waits (2003), and A Thief of Time (2004).

Most recently, Studi starred along-side Christian Bale in the 2017 film Hostiles, and at the 90th Academy Awards, Studi introduced a tribute to military movies and gave part of his speech in the Cherokee language. Studi is the second Native American actor to present at the Academy Awards as Will Rogers was a host in 1934.

Studi was born in Nofire Hollow, Oklahoma, the son of Maggie Nofire, a housekeeper, and Andy Studi, a ranch hand. Studi exclusively spoke his native Cherokee language until beginning school at the age of five. A professional horse trainer, Studi began acting at The American Indian Theatre Company in Tulsa in the mid-80s.

At the age of 17 Studi enlisted in the Oklahoma National Guard and had his Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Polk, Louisiana. Studi volunteered for active service and went to Vietnam with the A Company of the 3rd Battalion 39th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division, United States Army. He served 12 months in Vietnam. After his discharge, Studi became politically active in American Indian activism. He participated in the Wounded Knee Incident at the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1973.

Studi and his wife, Maura Dhu Studi live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They have a son, Kholan. Studi has a daughter, Leah, and a son, Daniel, from a previous marriage.

The annual Chairman’s Lifetime Achievement Award presentation will take place on Wednesday, April 18, 2017, at the Chairman’s Awards Luncheon. Studi will join other past distinguished recipients such as Tricia Wood, Native American Casting Director, Lynn Valbuena, Chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, LaDonna Harris, Founder and President of Americans for Indian Opportunity and Steve Ortiz, Chairman of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and Stanley Jones, Sr. former Chairman of the Tulalip Tribes, to name a few. 

The Indian Gaming Tradeshow and Convention will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 17 – 20, 2018. It is the largest gathering of tribal leaders and casino executives in the country. The Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention is both the meeting place where the community gathers to learn, network and exchange industry-specific ideas and a cultural celebration of success, strength, and self-reliance.

Entering its 33rd year, the Indian Gaming Tradeshow & Convention has established itself not only as the premier event for the Indian Gaming industry but as the figurative heartbeat of Native American success.