Native Americans Giving Back: Adam Beach
One man has witnessed first-hand many of the same struggles Native Youth face today, and has found a way to give back, and to give hope: Adam Beach.
Perhaps best known for his role as Victor in the film, “Smoke Signals,” Adam Beach is an actor, producer and composer. An inspiration to many, Beach is a strong voice for Native American actors, a group underrepresented in the entertainment industry. And, he understands first-hand many of the desperate and depressing issues facing many Native Americans today.
Born Saulteaux on the Dog Creek First Nation Reserve in Canada, Beach witnessed many challenges on the reservation such as poverty, sexual abuse, alcoholism – social challenges that exist in many communities on and off the reservations. In addition, when Adam was eight, both of his parents died – his mother killed by a drunk driver when she was eight months pregnant and his father accidentally drowned only months later. After this, Adam moved to Winnipeg to live with his aunt and uncle and joined the high school theatre group to have fun with his friends. When they decided to move, Adam remained and began seriously to consider acting as a career. With more than 60 Adam Beach films and TV programs dating back to 1990, his choice paid off.
Yet, it is Adam’s off-screen work that is making the biggest difference in the lives of Native Americans. He started the Adam Beach Film Institute to provide resources and training to Aboriginal youth who are interested in pursuing a career within the film industry. He also launched the Adam Beach Foundation to:
“…enhance the awareness of suicide, for the prevention of suicide and also to provide different opportunities to distract the younger generation from losing hope, from thinking that they have nowhere to go or have no ideas to put together.”
Like Adam, National Relief Charities is committed to helping Native Americans address suicide prevention, realize health and hope and live a better tomorrow. In 2013, NRC supported reservation programs for suicide prevention, domestic violence, behavioral health, substance abuse treatment, as well as youth camps, boys and girls clubs, and other programs working to support and inspire Native American youth and families toward healthy and hopeful lifestyles on the reservations.
“Native Americans Giving Back” is a blog series that features Native American celebrities who are giving back to Indian country and supporting the same types of causes NRC supports. The series will run periodically through year-end 2014 and feature topics from all of NRC’s regular blog writers.