Cherokee actor Wes Studi has grown from his roots as a small-town Oklahoma native to internationally acclaimed actor and musician. With unforgettable performances in feature films like “Dances with Wolves,” “The Last of the Mohicans,” James Cameron’s “Avatar,” and Scott Cooper’s “Hostiles,” Studi’s passion and multi-faceted background has inspired his powerful character portrayals and continues to challenge and change Hollywood stereotypes. Studi is also a Vietnam Veteran, a member of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum’s Hall of Great Western Performers and in 2019 will receive an honorary Academy Award for his body of work.
STEVEN PAUL JUDD
Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw) is a Native American Artist from Oklahoma. He is a filmmaker, director, screenwriter, writer of fiction and visualist. He’s a member of the Writers Guild of America and served as a staff writer for Disney’s XD Comedy Series, “Zeke and Luther.”
Judd’s filmography is large in scope and provides a unique perspective on and from within Native American culture today. His innovative approach provides a glimpse into a world that is familiar to the underrepresented first peoples of this nation and simultaneously brings about a fresh perspective and understanding among the non-Native community through humor. Judd’s filmography has earned him many honors and awards and the Native American population have embraced his work with an out pour of support and encouragement to continue creating.
FELICIA COCOTZIN RUIZ
Felicia Ruiz (Tewa/Xicana) is a medicine maker, indigenous foods activist, and natural foods chef whose work is deeply rooted in the healing properties of all earth medicines.
Curanderas are traditional healers, who carry knowledge of foods, herbs, and other cultural remedies working with the body, mind, and spirit. In curanderismo, it is believed that disease can be caused by psychological, physical, and spiritual factors, creating disharmony of the body, mind, or spirit. Curanderas help bring people out of that diseased state and back into harmony with various remedies and rituals. So it is with great honor, that with permission from her elders, Felicia carries on the lineage of natural healing ways through private consultations, medicine workshops, and ceremony.
JONES BENALLY FAMILY
World Champion hoop dancer and traditional healer Jones Benally, his daughter Jeneda, son Clayson, and three young grandchildren form the Jones Benally Family Dancers. These three generations together bring the healing power, beauty, and profound messages of Navajo (Diné) culture to educate and uplift audiences around the globe.
The Jones Benally Family gives an unparalleled introduction to Navajo music and dance, and will be featured in the Native American Cultural Celebration Opening Ceremony.
For over forty years, Joseph Bruchac has been creating literature and music that reflect his indigenous heritage and traditions. He is a proud Nulhegan Abenaki citizen and respected elder among his people.
He is the author of more than 120 books for children and adults. His best selling Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children series, with its remarkable integration of science and folklore, continues to receive critical acclaim and used in classrooms throughout the country.
In a career in the arts spanning nearly six decades, Bobby Bridger has recorded nine albums of original songs on Monument, RCA, and his own Golden Egg Record label. He is also the author of four books, has sold over 300 paintings, and has written, produced and starred in both one-man shows and full-company musicals of various productions of his epic trilogy A Ballad of the West. Bridger was also featured in major roles acting in ground-breaking productions of Dale Wasserman’s Shakespeare and the Indians, and Chris Sergel’s stage adaptation of John Neihardt’s Black Elk Speaks.
Bridger is the 2016 recipient of the John G. Neihardt Foundation’s prestigious “Word Sender” award.
Recently, Bridger produced the audiobook of Vine Deloria, Jr.’s classic The World We Used To Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men, read by iconic American actor, Wes Studi.
J.R. Mathews is the former chairman of the Quapaw Nation and creator of the American Indian Theater Company. He will be moderating "An Evening with Wes Studi", as well as coordinating the Opening Ceremony to include delegations from Arkansas' indigenous tribes!
Betty Gaedtke or Te-mi-zhi-ka (little buffalo woman) is an enrolled member of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma and part of the Buffalo clan. Her grandmother, Nora Buffalo Brock, was one of the last pureblood Quapaw Indians when she passed away in 1987. Since 2012, Gaedtke has been creating pottery in traditional methods with Quapaw styles and decorations. Gaedtke includes a disclaimer that her pottery are not antiques, but are authentic pieces of Quapaw pottery which have been signed and smoked.
After receiving his law degree, Scinta worked as a public finance attorney, assisting on over $1.5 billion in projects around the nation. He has worked for over twenty years as an editor at Fulcrum Publishing and served as Publisher and President for a decade. During his tenure as Publisher, Fulcrum became one of the leading publishers of Native American books in the nation, focusing on social and political issues, and developed a book series on contemporary political issues.
In 2015, Scinta founded IM Education, Inc., a non-profit focusing on education programming.
Scinta has taught at UWL for 7 years, and has also taught Political Science at Viterbo University.
Johnnie Lee Diacon is an enrolled member of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and is also a member of the Raprakko Etvlwa (Thlopthlocco Tribal Town). Johnnie was born to the Ecovlke (Deer Clan). He resides in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Johnnie was born in Okemah, Oklahoma to Margaret Harjochee (Creek) and Cecil Iron (Osage).
Johnnie’s Contemporary Style work is usually done on illustration board and stretched canvas using either acrylics or oils. He is also proficient with watercolors and other media. Tempera and gouache are other forms of water-based paints that Johnnie uses in his Traditional Style paintings.
Johnnie studied mural painting at Bacone College and often works in larger formats as well as continuing with his smaller canvases. In addition to painting and other two- dimensional forms, Johnnie has done beadwork and some three-dimensional assemblage works as well. At Bacone College he also studied silversmithing and bronze casting.
Ashton Dunkley, 22-years-old, was born and raised in the state of Delaware. Her people are from the island of Jamaica and the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Nation of New Jersey, of which she is an enrolled member. This past spring, she graduated from Temple University with a History-Anthropology double major, as well as an Italian minor. She currently lives in Minneapolis and is pursuing a doctoral degree in American Studies at the University of Minnesota. The goal of her academic work is to give a voice to Indigenous Eastern Woodland communities which have been frequently ignored in the U.S. historical narrative. She hopes to use her education to advocate for K-12 curricular reform, specifically regarding U.S. History courses. In her free time, Ashton enjoys learning about and foraging for traditional medicines, as well as practicing the Lenape language.
Alex Trevino lives in Beaumont, Texas and is an Earth Guardian National Council member and crew leader. She took her first steps into activism in 2014. It was the first day of summer when she woke to messages that the fine arts programs were to be cut from their schools. So, herself and her fellow theatre students got to work. Within two days they had gathered about twenty of their fellow fine arts students, got the attention of the local media, and organized their first rally at the local ISD administration building. This lasted the whole two months of summer where they called the entire community to action, traveled to the state courthouse, saved over four hundred teachers jobs, and was able helped bring to light the corruption within BISD (local school board).
In 2015, Alex again faced the school board, where she spoke out against standardized testing. After successfully opting out of standardized testing she made her transition into homeschooling, where it made it possible for her two passions to meet art and activism.
In 2016, on Halloween day her family made their way to standing rock. Through this, she was called to actions and found her passion for climate activism. After many years of fighting for what she believed in, she found the community she was searching for, Earth Guardians. Recently, she began EG Beaumont crew despite the challenge of living in an area which is known for their oil refineries. Alongside the launch of her crew, she is CO-founder of Operation EG with Marlow Baines and Mia Eastman. And recently speaking to over 150 Democratic legislators to be a voice for the youth. Not only is she an amazing youth leader but also a tattoo artist and incredible chef. With her dedication and fiery passion, she is making waves of change at a local and national level.
Jasilyn Charger was one of the first people to set up camp at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in April 2016. Along with three other youth from her Reservation, the then-19-year-old helped raise awareness about construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline by staging a 2,000-mile run from North Dakota to Washington. By the time the group returned to Standing Rock, the camp population had swelled into the thousands. Today, Jasilyn continues to work hard to preserve the land and water and spread the teachings of their importance.
Kellie is a teacher, spiritual practitioner, and community organizer who has a passion for bringing peace, justice, and healing. She is the visionary behind the first of its kind and historic Indigenous Youth Leadership Training which took place in the summer of 2019. In 2016, Kellie’s relationship to various Indigenous tribes of the Americas, as well as her love for water, drove her across the country to Cannonball, ND where she spent 2 months living and participating in the Standing Rock movement. Working in harmony with her Native and non-Native allies she learned more about non-violent front lines direct action, as well as how to create a movement with prayer at its center. Kellie now lives in Boulder, CO and is continuing her work of heart-forward, direct action with the Earth Guardians. Additionally, Kellie is birthing a new body of work currently called the Abundance Alliance alongside a number of Native youth, whose mission is Protect the Youth, Heal the Land, and Feed the People.
CHEROKEE INDIAN BAPTIST CHOIR
The Cherokee Indian Baptist Choir will be joining us at the fundraising brunch, Sunday, October 6th to benefit Partnership with Native Americans.
PARTNERSHIP WITH NATIVE AMERICANS
Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) is a nonprofit committed to championing hope for a brighter future for Native Americans living on remote, geographically isolated and often impoverished reservations. Established in 1990, PWNA collaborates with reservation programs to serve immediate needs and support long-term solutions for strong, self-sufficient Native American communities.
PWNA cares about quality of life for Native Americans and supports the self-determined goals of the tribes. Providing essential goods and services in the right way for tribal communities, challenging poverty and dependency, reaching remote areas most organizations cannot reach and developing community leaders who drive social change are all essential components of PWNA’s work. Hundreds of reservation programs are leading positive change within their tribal communities and look to PWNA as a trusted partner and resource.
By working together, PWNA and its reservation partners are improving quality of life for 250,000 Native Americans annually — and yet there is more to do in the areas of nutrition and food sovereignty, education and leadership development, and emergency response.
MARK FORD - PWNA
Originally from Alamosa, Colorado, Mark’s Native American heritage is Chiricahua Apache. He served 16 years as a Roman Catholic priest, including 7 years on the Navajo and Hopi reservations, before being assigned to two churches in New Orleans where he founded a ministry for children with disabilities.
In 2006, Mark was appointed Assistant Director of Disability Affairs and, in 2008, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs, assisting Louisiana tribes in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Gustav and Ike.
Seeking a change of career outside church and state politics, in 2010 Mark joined Partnership With Native Americans (PWNA) to help establish Long-Term Solutions programming focused on sustainable gains for tribal communities. Today, Mark identifies and cultivates partnerships with local businesses, corporations, nonprofits, tribes and philanthropists to support the work and mission of PWNA. He lives in Arizona.