Gary Farmer

Santafe.com - June 23, 2011

“'You're born and raised in a town and you get no more out of it than what you put into it...'”

Welcome to the first official installment of Santa Fe Independent.  I am thrilled to write about a great SantaFean talent in the film world who is also a leader for social justice.  Gary Farmer is a Canadian American actor. April 3rd he received the NMAI Smithsonian Lifetime Outstanding Achievement Award, and has been nominated for Independent Spirit Awards for his roles in Smoke Signals and Deadman.

Gary was born in Ohsweken, Ontario, into the Cayuga nation and Wolf Clan. His career began in theater in New York where he honed his craft as an actor.  I first became aware of Farmer at Wood Gormley Elementary when Julia Rhodes (My fourth-grade teacher) screened PowWow Highway for the class.  The film captured a special time in Santa Fe and was a great vehicle for Gary as the endearing and spiritual Philbert Bono, AKA Whirlwind Dreamer.

Gary has appeared steadily in over 100 films and television shows including Smoke Signals, PowWow Highway, and even a small part in Police Academy.  He has acted along side Billy Zane, Robert De Niro, Marlon Brando, and Johnny Depp in Jim Jarmusch’s Deadman, a role that Jarmusch wrote for Gary.  He has been a long time advocate of youth and native cinema, and has appeared in Hollywood films, while continuing to appear in independents throughout his career. 

Gary completed four pictures in 2010 including Bear Tung, a clever short in which he plays a hunter at a press conference interviewed by animals, and Good Neighbors by Jacob Tierney, writer-director of the 2009 Tribeca Film Fest sensation, The Trotsky.  Gary also appeared in the local independent Ink by Santa Fe Playwright Alice Van Buren.

Gary’s Band, Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers, plays local venues, fests, events, and benefits in Santa Fe year-round, and tours all over the US playing in Indian Country and staying with friends along the way.  The band has produced two albums, Love Song and other Issues, and Lovesick Blues, and can be seen in Santa Fe this summer.

Gary’s advocacy for youth and native cinema includes his work as Founding Director of Aboriginal Voices Radio and Founding Editor-in-Chief of Aboriginal Voices, a magazine awarded First Place for General Excellence from the Native American Journalist Association in 1995 and 1998.  He is the most community-minded person I have ever known and we are lucky he has made Santa Fe his home, where you can find him singing and playing harmonica at an event with his band or leading some independent local film to glory. Beyond his gravitas as an actor and dedication to music, is his commitment to youth, social change, and the arts as a way to facilitate change.

“You're born and raised in a town and you get no more out of it than what you put into it.” –Gary Farmer, Visilia Times-Delta