Native Americans Giving Back: Graham Greene
Not every Native American is sought out for Indian roles, mainstream movie roles and cable TV roles, or recognized for all and awarded for most, but here’s one who is: Graham Greene.
Born in 1952 on Six Nations reserve #40 in Oshweken, Ontario, Canada, Graham Greene is Oneida. His reservation, formally known as the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, is home to Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora peoples who unified under the Great Tree of Peace during the American Revolution, making them one of the largest bands in Canada with more than 25,000 members.
Perhaps best known for his Academy Award nomination for best supporting role in Dances with Wolves (1990), Greene had Native roles in movies such as “Thunderheart,” “The Last of His Tribe,” and his debut film “Running Brave.” Greene also had roles in mainstream films such as “Twilight: New Moon,” “The Green Mile,” “Maverick,” and “Die Hard With a Vengeance.” Starting out as an audio tech for rock bands, Graham graduated from The Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto in 1974.
Loved by millions, Graham received two Gemini Awards for “Best Performance” in a Youth Program or Series (1994) and in a Pre-School Program or Series (1998). He received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for arts and culture (1997), a Grammy for best spoken word album for children, “Listen to the Storyteller” (1999), and the Earle Grey Lifetime Achievement Award (of the Canadian Gemini Awards) for his body of work on television (2004). He currently plays Malachi Strand in the A&E TV series, “Longmire.”
In 2008, Graham was awarded an honorary law degree by Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario for his contributions to society – and there are many, in addition to his craft as an actor.
Recognizing the gift of resilience and the value of connection, Graham donated a voiceover for the YMCA awareness campaign on nurturing the “potential of youth.” With Thanksgiving upon us, Graham urges all of us to stop and give thanks for the young people around us – children, students, grandchildren – and for Indian nations surviving another hard year.
Like Graham, NRC respects the potential of all youth and their right to social equity. Last year, NRC provided school supplies for more than 25,000 Native American children in K-12 schools. We supported literacy programs for nearly 17,000 Native youth, distributed TOMs shoes, and supported community-wide Thanksgivings meals for more than 10,000 Native youth, families and Elders on 49 reservations.
NRC appreciates Graham Greene for being a light for youth, for inspiring audiences, and for paving the way for indigenous hopefuls who aspire to an acting career.