San Carlos Apache Actor and Activist Chesley Wilson, Sr., Passes to Spirit World
By Sandra Rambler
San Carlos Apache
BYLAS, Arizona — A prestigious member of the San Carlos Apache Tribe 89-year-old Chesley Wilson, Sr., will be brought back to his home for viewing on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021 from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. followed by a traditional military style funeral at 11:00 a.m. at the Ernest Stanley Memorial Hall.
He was a member of the Screen Actor Guild (SAG) as an actor and played many roles. One of the famous roles he played was as an Indian Chief in the 2012 movie ”12 Years A Slave,” which received 9 Academy Award nominations and won for Best Picture, Best Screen Adaptation and Best Supporting Actress (Lupita Nyongo). The film was directed by Steve McQueen and Brad Pitt and filmed in New Orleans, Louisiana and grossed $187 million in profits.
The movie was about a black man Solomon Northrup who was kidnapped and sold as a slave which depicts a true story about what happened when he was kidnapped. On his way to a plantation after he was bought as a slave, they come across some First American Indians who are singing and praying and dancing. This is the scene and part which Chesley Wilson, Sr., plays as the Indian Chief. He later told tribal members about how he was taken into the area that was full of alligators in the swamp in Louisiana.
He also served in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged and was an active member of the San Carlos Apache Veterans Association (SCAVETS).
He was also well known for his acclaimed talent in making handmade Apache Violins.
He was also an activist and spoke against the injustices to First American Indians. He had participated in the fight against the telescopes on Dzil Nchaa Sian (Mount Graham) and against the proposed mine at Chi’chil’bilda’goteel (Oak Flat).
Family members are encouraging attendees to wear their traditional Apache camp dresses and ribbon shirts. Immediately following the funeral, the burial will be at the Bylas Veterans Cemetery with full military honors.
Actors Chesley Wilson and Leonardo DiCaprio
Wilson's son Steve said, "This is Chesley Wilson Sr: San Carlos Apache.
He has parts in two Oscar award winning movies, 12 Years a Slave and The Revenant.
Actor Chesley Wilson, Sr.
Geronimo (1993 TV movie)
Buffalo Soldiers (1997 TV movie)
South of Heaven, West of Hell (2000 film)
Skinwalkers (2002 TV movie)
Rio de Oro (2010 film)
12 Years a Slave (2013 film)
The Revenant (2015 film)
12 Years a Slave (performer)
The Revenant (songwriter and performer)