Published on June 28, 2012 by Amy
When Noah Watts was 9 years old, his uncle gave him a Crow name. “I am going to name you, Bulaagawish, Old Bull.” His uncle put his hand on Noah’s shoulder and continued. “That’s the name Chief Plenty Coups gave your grandfather. The name refers to the buffalo bull that leads the herd. That name has good things associated with it.”
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A member of the Crow tribe and descendent of the Blackfeet nation, Noah Watts grew up in Bozeman, Montana, but each summer Noah goes home to the Crow reservation to camp at Crow fair with his extended family.
Excelling in baseball, basketball, golf, tennis, and skateboarding as a boy, Noah also learned to ride horses, fly fish, and snowboard living in the Rockies. As part of his connection to his Native culture, Noah has been a traditional Crow war dancer since he was six years old, occasionally competing in contests but more often dancing for pleasure at Pow Wows.
Noah has been acting on stage since fifth grade when he played the scarecrow in a school production of Oz. In high school Noah began developing and refining his acting skills in a variety of roles that culminated in the part of John Proctor in The Crucible. Noah also worked on his acting craft in the forum of high school speech and debate contests, putting the capstone on his high school acting career by representing Montana at the National Forensic League National Tournament. His performance of the dramatic monologue “Gas” by Jose Rivera in front of 1,500 people earned him fourth place in the national tournament.
High school dramatics was a catalyst for Noah’s acting career. As a senior, Noah acted in two independent feature films. First, Noah was cast in The Slaughter Rule, playing Waylon Walks Along, a teenage Blackfeet youth, who is captain of a reservation high school football team. For Noah, one major challenge of the part was to speak the majority of his lines in the Blackfeet language. Just a few months later he landed a second role as Herbie Yellow Lodge in the feature film Skins directed by Chris Eyre. Portraying the son of an alcoholic father (Graham Greene), Noah had the third lead part and shared scenes with Indian actors Greene and Eric Schweig. It was then Noah began to dream of a career in film.
Noah graduated from high school and won a scholarship to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. After one semester at AADA, Noah was offered a part in a new Chris Eyre film entitled Skinwalkers, playing a teenage gang leader and suspected murderer, a role far different from the shy, devoted son he played in Skins. This character provided Noah the opportunity to showcase his ability to play very different roles.
The following summer in Santa Fe and Albuquerque he performed the lead in the Southwest Repertory Company’s production of the play The Indolent Boys written by N. Scott Momaday. Noah’s character is a young Native man in a boarding school in the 1800′s who is being trained to be a Christian missionary. The character struggles with an internal conflict between his Native culture and the Christian religion inculcated through the boarding school system.
His recent projects include an appearance on Literary Stages on KCRW in Los Angeles, reading a piece by W. P. Kinsella. In the Spring of 2005 Noah was cast in an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, entitled Kino and Teresa. He played the fierce villain Eladio (Tybalt in the original play). This production was unique in that the entire cast, the director, and writer, are all Native American. Noah also just finished making an independent film called Montana 1933, which was filmed on location and set during the Great Depression. He plays Joe Running Elk, a young man who loses his job working on the railroad and begins a life of adventure outside the law. The film is now in post-production and should be out sometime in 2006.
When Crows bestow a name, they also bestow a wish, a prayer for the name’s recipient. Noah’s uncle wished for Noah to lead a life of distinction that would be a credit to the Crow people. Noah has a name to live up to and a destiny to follow. Noah is currently living in Los Angeles and working towards fulfilling his dream.