2019 – Arts
From small-town Oklahoma Native 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. Drawing from his rich life experience, Wes has moved audiences with unforgettable performances in films, including “Dances with Wolves,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” Geronimo: An American Legend” and “Heat,” as well as James Cameron’s “Avatar,” Paul Weitz’s “Being Flynn” and Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles.”
Throughout his 30-year career, Wes has won numerous awards, including induction into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Hall of Great Western Performers in 2013. In 2018, Wes, who is a Vietnam Veteran, was invited to present at the 90th Academy Awards. To a viewership of 26.5 million, he introduced a video montage of military movies as a tribute to veterans. In 2019, Wes received the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Governors Award, an honorary Oscar statuette given to honor extraordinary distinction in a lifetime achievement.
Wes is also a skilled stone carver and author. He has written two children’s books for the Cherokee Bilingual/Cross-Cultural Education Center. He is also a passionate activist and academic. A fluent speaker of his Cherokee language, Wes has a national leadership role in the promotion and preservation of Indigenous languages, acting as the spokesperson for the Santa Fe, NM based Indigenous Language Institute.