I do a lot of inspirational talks for kids, to motivate them to change their lives and give them hope.
With 'Smoke Signals,' the character was so much like me growing up. I lost my parents, and I wish I'd had an opportunity to find out where they were. So I was reflecting on how I grew up, that feeling of abandonment. That whole film was a reality that I always held back and kept to myself.
I go to South Dakota for ceremonies when I have the time. And when you learn what the Indian peoples have gone through to hold onto their culture and traditions... wow, it's an amazing story.
You can't propel a nation to move forward if all you are doing is taking something from them.
I have a cousin who is a spiritual advisor for Native veterans in Canada, so I'm very familiar with the history of Natives in the military. And growing up as an American Indian myself, the story of Ira Hayes is one that is often told.