Native Americans in the Media

Native American actors, writers, and artists have long been a staple of American culture. These men and women have helped shape the way that American society has developed over the generations, and have provided millions with both entertainment and food for thought. There are a number of natives that have pushed through the boundaries of what was deemed possible through their status as a "minority", and have risen to points of true distinction in the media. Some of the Native Americans that have reached the greatest recognition include:

Wes Studi

It seems like there hasn't been a big movie made about Native Americans since the 1970's that hasn't featured Wes Studi. A Cherokee actor, Mr. Studi has worked with such illustrious names as Daniel Day Lewis, Kevin Costner, and James Cameron in some of the biggest blockbuster movies of all time. He rose to fame with his portrayal of Magua in "Last of the Mohicans" and has most recently garnered praise for his role in James Cameron's Avatar. He played the chief of the Na'vi tribe in Avatar, which went on to be the single biggest box office success in movie history. He has parlayed his work into an opportunity to support a number of Native American causes, earning him true stripes as an activist for native issues.

Chuck Norris

Best known for his work in martial arts movies and his television show "Walker, Texas Ranger", Chuck Norris is of Cherokee heritage. He came to prominence in the 1970's through his many film appearances, but his career didn't really take off until he appeared with Bruce Lee in "Return of the Dragon" in 1972. Throughout his life, he has become one of the most well-known martial artists in American history, and has often been cited as one of the most popular action-movie stars of all time. As an activist, he has been an instrumental figure in the Make-a-Wish foundation, as well as in numerous United Way fundraisers. He was given the title of "Honorary United States Marine" in 2007, and in 2010 he was made an "Honorary Texas Ranger".

John Trudell

Arguably the most famous and influential Native American of his time, John Trudell is a multifaceted fixture in Native American culture. As an activist, Trudell has been heavily involved with Native American political issues for his entire adult life. He rose to early prominence in 1969 when Native American activists took over Alcatraz Island. Using his background in broadcasting, Trudell became the spokesman for the occupiers and remained in that capacity for the two year occupation. He went on to become a famous poet and author of many pieces on Native American heritage and rights issues. He was also a noted actor in numerous films such as "Smoke Signals" and "Thunderheart". He spends his time speaking out about Native American issues, and works sometimes as a cultural adviser for films about Native Americans.

Adam Beach

Originally of native Canadian ancestry, Adam beach is one of the most recognizable "new" faces of Native American celebrity. He is of the Salteaux people, and has appeared in many very famous Hollywood movies. Some of his most notable performances were in "Windtalkers", "Walker, Texas Ranger", "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee", and "Flags of Our Fathers". He also has a very long resume in television, appearing in "Law and Order" and "Big Love". He is noted as being careful about the roles he chooses to play, displaying a desire to only portray characters that are seen as good role models for native people.