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 Actor Adam Beach (Jim Chee) chatted with the Native American community on America Online on Thursday, November 22, 2002. The transcript of that chat follows.
HOST: We would like to welcome Adam Beach to the Native American community on AOL.

HOST: Adam's latest project is MYSTERY!'s Skinwalkers, a murder mystery based on the Tony Hillerman novel. Adam plays FBI agent Jim Chee, who joins with partner Joe Leaphorn to track down a killer who targets medicine men. Jim Chee, who is training to become a traditional healer, teams with partner Joe Leaphorn to investigate the case. They soon discover clues indicating that the murderer may be a "skinwalker," a Navaho witch with the power to change from human to animal, move with lightning speed, and to kill with curses. Adam has also costarred with Nicolas Cage in Windtalkers and has appeared in many other TV shows and films. Welcome to AOL, Adam!

ADAM BEACH: Thank you!

ADAM BEACH: I wanted to let you all know that I am just starting to learn how to use e-mail to answer fans. You can visit the Adam Beach Fan Forum at And I'm ready for questions!

HOST: Great Adam, then we will get right to them.

HOST: Lynne883 asks: Because of your visibility, you're in a position to draw attention to serious issues. Do you have any special interests in certain issues in Indian country and if so, what are they?

ADAM BEACH: I'd like to involve myself in a project that works with the residential and boarding schools. What's difficult is that it's a hard subject to bring to film.

HOST: I bet it is a tough subject to bring to the camera! Okay our next question is from Wicahpiwi8: Do you observe your people's customs and traditions? Do you teach your children the ways of our people's?

ADAM BEACH: Yes, I do. My children are not as involved as I wish they were but I believe in taking my time and eventually they will bring it into their lives. Myself, I started learning traditional ways in my teens and now it's become a responsibility, I must make sure I am strong enough to carry the responsibilities before learning more. I believe I am close to starting my sundance now because I had a dream of it. I go to sweat lodges when I feel I need the strength and healing.

HOST: NCRunningWolf asks: Are you mentoring any other young Indian actors? If so, from what nations?

ADAM BEACH: Yes, I am, from all nations. Especially with people who are interested in working in entertainment. One of the things I always tell them, if you work hard enough, you will receive it back, get what you put into it. There are some people who get involved just because they know there is not enough of us, but that's not enough. I got involved in acting because drama club was a good place to goof around, have fun.

HOST: OK Taya asks: What was it like for you growing up? Are your parents and grandparents still living?

ADAM BEACH: Ever since my parents passed, I carried a feeling of abandonment and felt I was a victim. I blamed my mistakes on my parents, for not being there to guide me. As I grew older, I realized I couldn't live in their shadow, I have to find my own way. It was hard but I had very good friends growing up that I am still close with. My grandmother is still alive, I see her about twice a year. I'm going to try to go home more next year.

HOST: I am sure your grandmother would love that! What do your family and friends think of you being an actor?

ADAM BEACH: I am looked at as someone in my family who has really made it. Sometimes, though, I just want to be seen as Adam Beach, a boy playing baseball. Now it's hard because people always approach me, ask questions. But what's cool is every time I go to a powwow, they recognize me but they put me in my place.

HOST: I think each of us, every once in awhile, need to feel our "place." Bobcatforjustice asks: What do you do to relax?

ADAM BEACH: I sleep... I'm a very, very, very excellent napper. I can go to sleep no matter how loud it is or what's going on around me. On set, you might find me asleep under a tree or even under a truck. (Yes, that happened once!)

HOST: Oh my goodness!

HOST: They also ask: Any new films in the works?

ADAM BEACH: I am working on a controversial film now from an incident in 1986 called Cowboys and Indians: JJ Harper Story.

HOST: I will definitely keep an eye out for that one! Another question for you is: Would you like to get married?

ADAM BEACH: Yes I would. Marriage is something I look forward to as a bonding of relationships.

HOST: True.

HOST: Tashina007 asks: What CDs are in your CD player right now?

ADAM BEACH: Smashing Pumpkins

HOST: Oh, they are good!

HOST: What are some of your favorite films/actors?

ADAM BEACH: My favorite film is Stand By Me, my favorite actor is Johnny Depp. Also Running On Empty, The Mosquito Coast, Mel Gibson, Meryl Streep.

HOST: Wicahpiwi8 asked: There's a trend lately to 'romanticize" Indians, which is putting a lot of pressure on the native peoples of the western hemisphere. How do you view this trend and do you think that non-natives are just searching for somewhere to belong and mean no harm?

ADAM BEACH: I would like to say it's not a trend, there has always been romanticism in novels and films. What's happening now is people are wanting to know the truth of who we really are. I think it's important that we as Indians take responsibility to show the truth and that's happening now. I don't think we should push away anyone who wants to learn about our traditional ways and our culture.

HOST: I am glad to hear that. There is so much wisdom that I feel needs to be heard. Are you comfortable portraying characters from other native nations?

ADAM BEACH: Yes, I'm comfortable playing other nations and proud to play other nations. It helps me learn and understand who they are.

HOST: Lynne883 says: I'd like to know your opinion on Windtalkers and if you felt it was a "true" representation of Code Talkers or if it was "just a start" toward getting native peoples "recognized" for their contributions?

ADAM BEACH: That's a hard question to ask because the film is basically an anti-war film. What John Woo was trying to express was that there were different nationalities and we were all equal together fighting something that existed out there. I do wish there could have been more detail on who they were, more education, but that would have affected the whole film and how it was portrayed. I think it was a great representation and the Code Talker veterans were very happy with what was done. It was the first time I had been able to put an Indian face to that era. That's the importance, recognizing who was involved in that war and not forgetting.

HOST: So true. We do not want to forget lest we leave ourselves open to repeat our mistakes. Here is a different kind of question. What kind of shampoo do you use?

ADAM BEACH: (laughing) I'd have to go to the bathroom to look at it.

HOST: I was almost imagining some type of 'herbal' shampoo!

HOST: Kokopelliplays4u asks: Had you read any of Hillerman's books before accepting the role of Jim Chee?


HOST: What is the most interesting aspect of Chee and how did you bring that into the film?

ADAM BEACH: I loved his concept of being an authoritarian officer and the softness of being a medicine man and how he balanced that. I applied that in some ways to myself and my own learning and responsibilities.

HOST: What was the most challenging part playing Jim Chee? And what do you like best about this character?

ADAM BEACH: Most challenging was a scene where I had to let all my anger out, basically jump on a kid and start beating him up. For me, that was an emotional outburst that I had to control. Best, I like how easy going he is and that he likes his cat, looks forward to going home to see his cat.

HOST: I can understand that one!

HOST: What cultural or spiritual differences/similarities do you see between your nation, the Saulteaux, and the Navajo?

ADAM BEACH: Wow... the language is a huge difference, the ceremonies are a little different and the singing is a different style in the South than the North. What I cherish most about the Navajo people is the importance they place on their language, because I grew up without my family teaching me my language, so to go to a place where everyone speaks and learns Navajo makes me feel very proud. I speak a little of my language but mostly my relatives laugh at me.

HOST: How did you like working with Chris Eyre again?

HOST: How different was it this time as opposed to working with him in Smoke Signals?

ADAM BEACH: This time working with Chris, I notice he knows more about what he wants in the film, he's more professional and really knows how to work with his actors now. I've wanted to work with him more since Smoke Signals but just haven't had the opportunity until now.

HOST: I guess it was like a friendly reunion then! Manipulate fear would like to know how old you are?

ADAM BEACH: I turned 30 on Nov 11.

HOST: That is the wonderful and handsome age!

HOST: And many of your fans are wishing you Happy Belated Birthday!

ADAM BEACH: Thank you!

HOST: Cop434, a former marine says "Good job in Windtalkers."

HOST: The Icey Cougar asks: Do you see Hollywood as being more receptive to Native Americans in the entertainment business?

ADAM BEACH: There is a change in allowing us to be more exposed in the films. What is hard is there aren't that many of us who they to be at a certain level with other actors since the white side is more dominant. It's easier to change an idea to get a better actor sometimes than use a Native American if they can't find a good actor for that part. For example, if there was a part originally Native American, say a cop, but then they get Johnny Depp, they would make the part fit him.

HOST: That is true.

HOST: Do you see more Native Americans trying to break into the business?


HOST: EagleWin65 wonders: Who do you think are some of the best Native American actors? Beside yourself of course!

ADAM BEACH: I'd like to say I have a huge respect for Eric Schweig because he helped me out while I was doing Squanto. I think Gary Farmer does very interesting work. And I love Tantoo Cardinal And Graham Greene.

HOST: I have to agree with you!

ADAM BEACH: Just a few of many.

HOST: Well Adam that was all the time we have. Thank you, Adam, for sharing your time with us tonight! Everyone, don't forget to watch Adam Beach in MYSTERY!'s Skinwalkers on PBS Sunday at 9PM ET. Be sure to check your local listings to confirm the show time for your area.

ADAM BEACH: Thank you to everyone for being so supportive!

HOST: Please visit AOL Keyword: Native American for more chat and message board discussions of interest. Have a wonderful evening and thank you for coming!

ADAM BEACH: Good night!

HOST: Good night everyone!
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