Native Americans took to social media to express gratitude to Hostiles star Wes Studi, Cherokee, who, during the 90th Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles last night, spoke Tsalagi, the language of the Cherokee people.
The Cherokee Nation itself took to Twitter to express gratitude.
“As a veteran, I am always appreciative when filmmakers bring to the screen stories of those who have served,” Studi said, introducing a filmed tribute to Hollywood’s portrayal of the military. “Over 90 years of the Academy Awards, a number of movies with military themes have been honored at the Oscars. Let’s take a moment to pay tribute to these powerful films that shine a great spotlight on those who have fought for freedom around the world.”
Studi has enjoyed a long career in movies, appearing in such classic movies as Dances With Wolves and The Last of the Mohicans, and most recently, he played Chief Yellow Hawk, co-starring with Christian Bale in Scott Cooper’s new western Hostiles.
Studi is affiliated with the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, based in Tahlequah, the largest of three federally-recognized Cherokee tribes. The other two are the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, also headquartered in Tahlequah, and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in Cherokee, North Carolina.
Between 1836 and 1839, the U.S. military removed the Cherokee Nation from their lands in Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas and forced them west into Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma) in the Western U.S.
Native Americans have served in every branch of the U.S. military and in every war and conflict since the Revolutionary War.
Studi is a veteran himself. Born in Nofire Hollow in rural Oklahoma, he joined the National Guard during his senior year at the now-defunct Chilocco Indian School, a boarding school in north-central Oklahoma. He later volunteered for the U.S. Army and served 18 months in Vietnam.
“Amongst themselves, Native Americans are treated with a lot more honor for having served the people,” he told the Military Times in January. “Our culture values the fact that our young men are willing and ready and able to put their lives on the line to protect others.”