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News > Press Releases > Press Release

Press Release

Release Date: November 14, 2006

by Tony Choate

Proceeds from a benefit event and preview screening of Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto hosted by the Chickasaw Nation will be donated to the Mayan people of Mexico and several Oklahoma organizations.

The 8 p.m. Friday screening at Riverwind Casino south of Norman prior to the film’s Dec. 8 general release has already attracted a number of corporate sponsors who have donated a total of $150,000.

Limited number of tickets is available by contacting the Riverwind Casino box office at (405) 322-6460.

Gibson has promised to match all proceeds from the benefit dollar for dollar.

Proceeds from the special benefit event will go to the Mayan People of Mexico, the Oklahoma Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America Inc., Indian Health Care Resource Center of Tulsa and Oklahoma City Indian Clinic.

“This event provides an opportunity to support a number of organizations who are doing great work,” said Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. “We are enjoying success in our business ventures and we feel it is very important to express our appreciation to the community in a meaningful way.”

Another benefit to American Indians may be the fact that Gibson scoured the Americas to cast the film with only indigenous actors.

“It is very important to note that Mr. Gibson has gone to great lengths to cast indigenous people in this film,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “This not only helps make the film more realistic, it serves as an inspiration to Native American actors who aspire to perform relevant roles in the film industry.”

Rudy Youngblood, who plays the lead role of Jaguar Paw has Comanche, Cree and Yaqui heritage. Youngblood lived in Ada for a time before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting.

His acting debut has been described as powerful and riveting.

“I’m so proud of what he was able to achieve,” said Gibson.

Youngblood felt an immediate connection with the character of Jaguar Paw.

“Jaguar Paw is a lot like me,” he said. “We’re from different eras but very much the same person. He is strong. He’s a giver, not a taker. He loves his family. He’s respectful, and he learns in the course of the story not to be afraid. This is also what I’ve been taught in my culture.”

Also known as Tee-Dee-Nae (Strong Boy)Youngblood, who is an accomplished powwow dancer, boxer and cross country runner, performed most of his own stunts.

“The physicality of this film was gut-wrenching and some of the scenes – jumping off the waterfall and being chased by the jaguar – were literally heart-pounding for me,” said Youngblood. “There was constant adrenaline, constant action, and lots of pain and fear, but Jaguar Paw is able to transcend all of that. It’s part of who he is.”

Stunt coordinator Mic Rodgers said Youngblood could be a professional stunt man if he wasn’t an actor.

“Rudy is probably the purest athlete I’ve ever seen,” said Rodgers. “He has head together and is totally on top of his game.”

Chickasaw student Jonah Puller, who saw a previous screening at Riverwind, said learning about the hard work and personal sacrifices of Youngblood in making the film was a great experience.

“It showed that no matter what tribe you’re from, you can always do great things,” he said.

Gov. Anoatubby said he hopes the screening itself will also serve as an inspiration.

“Our mission has always been to enhance the overall quality of life of Chickasaw citizens. This kind of charitable event enables us to move beyond material benefits and instill a sense of pride and self esteem in our citizens because they can see that we are supporting the community in which we live.”