Biography, Awards, Recognitions and Achievements
One of the world’s most well known Native American public figures, Gary “Litefoot” Davis built his career by embracing his cultural heritage and building the “Litefoot” brand on his talents as a musician, performer and entrepreneur. He serves as a successful example of the possibilities that exist for anyone that believes in themselves, works hard and never quits until they accomplish their goals.
At an early age, Gary took after his grandfather and father before him and started his own business. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to starting his first business Red Vinyl Records and after just one year of working his plan, he emerged as the first Native American rap artist, releasing music, traveling the United States on tour and performing internationally.
His hard work caught the attention of Paramount Pictures which led him to landing his first starring role in the feature film, “The Indian In The Cupboard”. He has since starred in several more films and television shows. His accomplishments as a rap artist went on to garner him six Native American Music Awards including, Artist of the Year. Gary has sold tens of thousands of his own albums independently and performed thousands of concerts across North America.
Now, he runs Davis Strategy Group (DSG) with his wife Carmen Davis. DSG is an awesome new marketing, communications, media and business consulting firm. Along the way, Gary became a more prolific businessman, investing in other family owned and operated companies including Litefoot Enterprises, Native Style Clothing, and authoring and self-publishing his own book, The Medicine of Prayer.
Gary also serves as the Executive Director of the Native American Financial Services Association.
With more than 100,000 fans on social media, Gary shares his ongoing journey as an entrepreneur and celebrity via his daily, #FootNotes motivational videos. He also hosts his YouTube series “Litefoot’s Relentless Pursuit”, a vlog of Davis’ everyday business life and constant travel. “Relentless Pursuit gives viewers a front row seat into the hustle and bustle of my life and everything that goes along with it,” said Davis. “I believe the show will inspire and motivate viewers to relentlessly pursue their goals and aspirations.”
Davis also launched his own podcast, “The Litefoot Show” in April of 2017. Audio episodes of The Litefoot Show will be available wherever podcasts can be found, including iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Soundcloud.
Litefoot also returns to his musical roots with the release of his first studio album in 10 years, “Redvolutionary”. The album is expected to be released in late June of 2017.
The Davis family are proud members of the Cherokee Nation and Gary loved spending time with his grandfather, Roy Davis. Roy was an amazing self-made man whom had pulled himself up by his bootstraps and overcome the odds and found success in life as a proud Cherokee man. Roy moved his family to California in the early 1940’s and ultimately ended up becoming an entrepreneur excising the mechanic and construction trades he had taught himself growing up in Oklahoma. Not long after Gary “Litefoot” Davis was born, his father moved the family back to Tulsa, Oklahoma and soon after, Gary’s grandparents moved back to Oklahoma as well. As a child, Gary loved spending enormous amounts of time with his father and grandparents who all worked together and ran the family’s businesses. His mother also helped out with their businesses, but never at the expense of providing a loving home for the family. At home she taught Gary many of the same core values that his father also reinforced in the way he operated the family businesses; “nothing takes the place of hard work”. Gary’s mother instilled a strong spiritual foundation in her son and stressed to him throughout his childhood the importance of prayer and faith.
As a young boy, you could find Gary helping out the best he could with the family business. He cleaned up tools in his father’s auto shop, helped sweep the office and wash the cars at his dad’s car lot and even helped with construction clean up and “demo” work for his dad’s construction company. No matter what odd jobs he was doing for the family business, the most important things he was doing during those formative years was, “listening and observing”. He intently watched his father negotiate business deals and listened to the sales skills his father used to be able to turn a “no” into a “yes”. He was acquiring the tools and skills that he would use himself many years later on his road to becoming a successful businessman and leader.
In his early teens, Gary’s father had tried to help a family member and while out of town on the family’s first ever extended vacation, that family member, in a matter of days, made business decisions that would bring the family’s business crumbling down. This changed everything for Gary and his family. They lost everything. Gary had to drop out of high school and got a job to help the family. It was a character building time for him and not without a constant barrage of difficulties. A year later, Gary got back into school but the family’s hardships led to his mother and father divorcing and in a short window of time he lost both of his grandparents. He had learned the value of hard work and perseverance and was bound and determined to not let his family down and to make something of his life. The next summer, Gary had talked with a friend and learned how much money he was making mowing lawns after school, on the weekends and over the summer. Gary decided to start his own lawn mowing business and would drive all over Tulsa, knocking on doors of houses who had grass that had grown tall and needed to be cut. He was soon able to buy all of his own equipment, set his own hours and soon began to realize that the money he made from mowing yards and owning his own business was much greater than any job that required him to punch a clock and receive a minimum hourly wage. The entrepreneurial spirit had taken hold in Gary.
RED VINYL RECORDS
Gary, who had developed a passion for writing in high school and a love for dancing and hip hop music… found those worlds come together while visiting his mom, who had since moved back to California. His younger sister who was living with his mom in California. She was an aspiring singer and busy recording a demo with some local producers that she had met. She had asked Gary if he’d like to come along and write a rap for one of her songs? He agreed and after writing the rap, the producers asked him if he would like to lay down a “scratch” vocal track of the rap, so, “…whomever would actually end up performing the rap would have an idea as to how it should be delivered…”. Gary got in the vocal booth and that 16 bar verse would become his first performance as a rap artist. He immediately fell in love with recording and making music. Upon returning to Oklahoma he started writing his own songs and putting together dance routines for each one knowing that one day he would perform these songs and he wanted to be ready. He soon found a studio to record in but he was in search of a “rap name”. He wanted a name that reflected his Native American heritage, but it also had to mean something more personal. While at a pow wow one weekend with friends, he heard the announcer call a dancer up to receive his winning prize money. The last name of the dancer was “Lightfoot”. The name immediately resonated with Gary; it was Native and had meaning to Gary as it reflected his passion for dancing and the choreographed routines he was making for all of his songs. He didn’t want to offend the “Lightfoot” family by using their name – so he changed the spelling to “Litefoot”. Litefoot was now recording his own music and performing at talent shows and clubs in the area as the first Native American rap artist. Soon he was performing for tribes across Oklahoma and not long after that he was traveling in Native communities from Alaska to Maine and everywhere in between. Litefoot would perform his music and always deliver a message at every show encouraging the people in the communities he was visiting. His musical pursuits turned into his first business, Red Vinyl Records. Gary started the company in 1992 with the core value, that if you “do good”, you will “get good”. Litefoot desired to encourage Native people, increase awareness in mainstream society and ultimately to make a difference for future generations of Native American people through his music.
FROM MUSIC TO MOVIES
Litefoot soon found himself performing constantly across the United States and in Canada. His fan base was growing from a relentless touring schedule that constantly had him on the road. In January of 1994, He was asked to travel to Rome, Italy with a group of Native musicians to perform at a festival. The trip was being facilitated by the American Indian College Fund, which was at the time based in NYC, and Litefoot was asked to represent the contemporary aspect of Native music. The trip was the first time Litefoot performed internationally and he was a hit. He performed at the Palazzo de Esposizioni in the heart of Rome and was interviewed by Radio Rai and even made the city newspaper. As soon as he returned back to the United States he returned to crazed touring schedule. While on tour in Oregon performing for the Burns Paiute Tribe, Litefoot received a phone call that Paramount Pictures had called and requested that he travel to New York City to read for a forthcoming Paramount Pictures film entitled, The Indian in the Cupboard. The casting for the film was being done in New York City and they had reached out to the American Indian College Fund inquiring as to Native American actors who might be candidates to audition for the film. The college fund mentioned Litefoot and even though he was not an actor at the time, that he might be someone whom should audition for the role. After receiving the call from Paramount Pictures Litefoot traveled to New York City and auditioned. He was asked to stay and meet the Director and audition for him, which he did. Having never acted before, Litefoot won the role of “Little Bear” and The Indian In the Cupboard became his first starring role in a major motion picture. Litefoot had made it to Hollywood.
MORE MOVIES...MUSIC AND MARRIAGE.
Litefoot filmed the Indian In The Cupboard from late 1994 through early 1995. The film came out in July of 1995 and Litefoot received raves for his portrayal of Little Bear. After filming had wrapped Litefoot returned to touring and delivering a message of empowerment on reservations across North America. He released the album, “Good Day To Die” which has become a classic amongst fans and he also did more films, including Mortal Kombat, Annihilation, The Song of Hiawatha, Kull, The Conqueror and Adaptation to name a few. He landed roles in such television shows as, Family Law, Any Day Now, and CSI Miami. In late 1997, Litefoot met his future wife, Carmen, and the two were married in 1998. The couple welcomed their first child, Quannah, in 1999.
MORE MUSIC, FASHION AND AN UNPRCEDENTED MOTIVATIONAL TOUR
Litefoot continued to release music independently on Red Vinyl Records at the rate of almost one album per year between 1998 and 2004. He had also become known as a powerful speaker. His message of self empowerment through “living your purpose” resonated with audiences. He was able to reach, engage, motivate and inspire people of all ages in a very effective way and it made him a highly sought after public speaker. Litefoot continued to tour across the country with his wife and young son, performing and speaking to packed crowds on reservations everywhere. Litefoot and his wife Carmen, also started the Native Style clothing and apparel brand during this time. The two traveled and sold Native Style everywhere that Litefoot performed. The brand quickly became a success and is available online at: www.nativestyleclothing.com In 2005, Litefoot and his wife planned, produced and facilitated an unprecedented effort of nationwide outreach to tribal nations across the United States called, the Reach the Rez Tour. The purpose of the Reach the Rez effort was to proactively travel to tribal communities across the United States and deliver a message of hope and prayer to Native people. Litefoot, his wife and son, and a small crew held 211 motivational speeches and inspirational performances that traveled them 54,000 miles across the United States between 2005 and 2006. That happens to be approximately the same distance as traveling twice around the earth. The effort included a weekly satellite radio show called “Reach The Rez Radio” that was broadcast nationwide which Litefoot produced and hosted. The Davis family continued the exhaustive effort for four additional years, traveling nationwide to tribal nations and communities delivering a messages of hope and empowerment.
RELENTLESS PURSUIT AND ADVANCEMENTS IN BUSINESS
By 2007, Gary “Litefoot” Davis had linked up with Jay-Z’s camp and began working on what would become his 11th studio album, Relentless Pursuit. The album was released in 2008. At this time Litefoot also found himself spending more and more time providing his services as a business consultant. During this time Litefoot served as Vice-President of Native Affairs for the Triple Five Group, owners of the Mall of America and West Edmonton Mall located in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Mr. Davis also served as co-chair of the National Indian Gaming Association’s, American Indian Business Network. During this time Mr. Davis began facilitating an array of cross sector business opportunities in Indian Country. When not dedicating his time to growing his consulting business, he was busy delivering speeches across North America. Litefoot’s services as an Emcee also began being called upon more often and in 2009 he began providing his services as an event host to National Conferences in Indian Country. In 2011, one of these organizations, The National Center For American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED), who annually holds the largest business conference known as the Reservation Economic Summit (RES), asked Mr. Davis to join the NCAIED’s Board of Directors. Mr. Davis accepted and served on the board until being asked in January of 2012 to serve as the NCAIED’s President and CEO. Mr. Davis accepted and served in that position until resigning at the end of September 2016. During Mr. Davis’s tenure at the NCAIED he promoted economic development and business opportunity for all of Indian Country by expanding the NCAIED’s RES events nationwide. Mr. Davis took Indian business global and was invited by the U.S. Department of Commerce to travel with the US delegation to Hanover Messe, the world’s largest business trade show located in Hanover, Germany. During this time, Mr. Davis became a recipient of the prestigious Sevenstar Award from the Cherokee Nation Historical Society, presented to a Cherokee who is accomplished in a chosen field, brought honor to the Cherokee people and serves as an inspiration to others. In 2015, Mr. Davis received the Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency National Director Special Recognition Award and was appointed as an Ambassador of the Department of Energy’s, Minorities In Energy initiative. Also in 2015, Mr. Davis was also recognized as one of the “Fifty Faces of Indian Country” by Indian Country Today Media Network. In May of 2016, Mr. Davis was appointed to the United States Small Business Administration’s Council on Underserved Communities. Though Mr. Davis was constantly busy with his various responsibilities, he did manage to author his first book in 2010 entitled, The Medicine of Prayer (available at litefoot.com, iBooks, Amazon and atBarnes and Noble.com) and he also did a little acting and appeared in the Netflix series, House of Cards in 2014.
FINANCIAL SERVICES, DAVIS STRATEGY GROUP AND HIP HOP
In Late September of 2016, Gary “Litefoot” Davis was named the new Executive Director of the Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA). “The appointment of Gary Davis will be transformative for our organization and the tribal communities we serve,” said Otoe-Missouria Chairman John R. Shotton who serves as NAFSA’s Chairman. “Gary has been a passionate and tireless advocate for creating new economic opportunities for Indian Country and nobody has fought harder to ensure the preservation of our tribal sovereignty. We are thrilled to have him joining our NAFSA team.” The mission of NAFSA is to advocate for tribal sovereignty, promote responsible financial services, and provide better economic opportunity in Indian Country for the benefit of tribal communities. “I am excited to begin serving as the new Executive Director of NAFSA where I believe we can help create greater awareness about the financial services provided by tribally owned companies and the positive impact those companies have in tribal communities,” Davis said. “Since its founding, NAFSA has been a catalyst to help its tribal members grow and flourish and I want to expand its portfolio to create even greater growth in the tribal financial services sector for the benefit of all of Indian Country.”
In late 2016 Gary and his wife Carmen started their newest company, Davis Strategy Group (DSG). DSG provides marketing, branding, communications and event consulting services to its clients. DSG also works with a select list of clients focused on growing business and economic opportunity in Indian Country.
In 2016 Davis was also back in front of the camera regularly releasing digital content in a variety of formats. He debuted his new YouTube series “Litefoot’s Relentless Pursuit” on Friday September 30, 2016. Litefoot’s Relentless Pursuit is a vlog of Davis’ everyday business life and constant travel. “Relentless Pursuit gives viewers a front row seat into the hustle and bustle of my life and everything that goes along with it,” said Davis. “I believe the show will inspire and motivate viewers to relentlessly pursue their goals and aspirations.”
Davis will also launched his own podcast, “The Litefoot Show” in April of 2017. “For over 20 years I have had the pleasure of speaking in countless Tribal communities and at conferences across the world. Podcasts are a rapidly growing medium and an excellent way for me to directly express my views, interact with listeners and engage with some of the most respected names in Indian Country and beyond,“ said Davis. “I believe the show will be very entertaining and a lot of fun.” Audio episodes of the Litefoot Show will be available wherever podcasts can be found, including iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Soundcloud.
In 2017, Davis also began a video series called “Footnotes” which are short motivational and informative video recordings available on Davis’ Youtube channel and online at litefoot.com. Litefoot also returns to his musical roots with the release of his first studio album in 10 years, “Redvolutionary”. The album is expected to be released in late 2017.
Mr. Davis continues to provide motivational speeches across North America inspiring and motivating audiences of all ages. The Davis’ have added two more children, Sequoyah and Qwnuseia, to their family.
For over two decades, Mr. Davis has meshed his success as an entrepreneur, with his passion to better the future of Indian Country and serve as a source of inspiration for Native people across North America.
- 2015 Recipient of the United States Department of Commerce, Minority Business Development Agency’s National Director of the Year Award
- 2015 Minority Business News USA Champion in honor of unwavering commitment to supplier diversity
- Selected as one of the, “Fifty Faces of Indian Country” by Indian Country Today Media Network – 2015
- 2014 Recipient of the Cherokee Nation Historical Society’s Seven Star Award for accomplishments in music, acting and business
- Recipient of the American Indian Business Leaders Entrepreneurship Award – 1995
- Oversight Hearing of the United States Senate Indian Affairs Committee, “Indian Country Priorities for the 114th Congress” – January 28, 2015
- Oversight Hearing of the United States Senate Indian Affairs Committee, “Economic Development: Encouraging Investment in Indian Country” – June 25, 2014
- Appointed by Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration to the Council on Underserved Communities – May 23, 2016
- Appointed by Dr. Ernest Moniz, U.S. Secretary of Energy, as an Ambassador of the Department of Energy’s, Minorities In Energy initiative – 2015
INTERNATIONAL DELEGATIONS & OUTREACH
- Accompanied the U.S. Department of Commerce, and its Minority Business Development Agency, as part of the official U.S. Delegation to Hannover Messe 2016, the world’s Largest trade fair for industrial technology- April 25-29, 2016 in Hannover, Germany.
- World Indigenous Business Forum, Featured Keynote speaker – October 29-30, 2014 in Guatemala City, Guatemala
AWARDS – Film and Music
First Americans in the Arts – Outstanding Performance (Indian in the Cupboard) 1995
American Indian Film Institute – Best Actor (Indian in the Cupboard) 1996
First Americans in the Arts – Outstanding Performance (Kull the Conqueror) 1997
Native American Music Awards- Best Rap Album (Good Day To Die) 1998
Native American Music Awards- Best Rap/Hip Hop Album (The Life & Times) 1999
Native American Music Awards- Best Rap/Hip Hop Album (Rez Affiliated) 2000
Native American Music Awards- Best Rap/Hip Hop Album (Tribal Boogie) 2002
Native American Music Awards- Best Male Artist (The Messenger) 2003
Native American Music Awards- Artist of The Year (Native American Me) 2004
Indian Summer Music Awards – Best Rap Album (Native American Me) 2004
Indian Summer Music Awards – Best Rap Album (Redvolution) 2005
BIOGRAPHY Gary “Litefoot” Davis is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. For over two decades, he’s meshed his talents as an artist and entrepreneur with his passion to better the future of Indian Country. His music, tours, films, books and entrepreneurial accomplishments have served as sources of inspiration for people around the world.
Davis, who began a career in acting by landing the starring role in the film, Indian in the Cupboard, and has since appeared in films such as Mortal Kombat Annihilation and Adaptation, as well as television shows CSI: Miami and House of Cards, is back in front of the camera and releasing digital content in a variety of formats. His new YouTube series “Litefoot’s Relentless Pursuit” is a web series of Davis’ everyday business life and constant travel. “Relentless Pursuit gives viewers a front row seat into the hustle and bustle of my life and everything that goes along with it,” said Davis. “I believe the show will inspire and motivate viewers to relentlessly pursue their goals and aspirations.” Davis also has a weekly podcast, “The Litefoot Show” and a daily video series entitled, “Footnotes”
Mr. Davis has traveled hundreds of thousands of miles throughout the United States and Canada bringing hope and empowerment to hundreds of tribal communities. He continues to motivate and inspire, tribal, educational and corporate audiences as a highly sought after public speaker.
Mr. Davis is the Executive Director of the Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA). Before being appointed as Executive Director of NAFSA, Mr. Davis served as President and CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED) and as a member of the NCAIED’s Board of Directors. He has served as Vice-President of Native Affairs for the Triple Five Group, owners of the world’s largest retail shopping malls; the Mall of America and the West Edmonton Mall and he previously served as co-chair of the National Indian Gaming Association’s, American Indian Business Network.
Mr. Davis is a recipient of the prestigious Sevenstar Award from the Cherokee Nation Historical Society, presented to a Cherokee who is accomplished in a chosen field, brought honor to the Cherokee people and serves as an inspiration to others. In 2015, Mr. Davis received the Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency National Director Special Recognition Award and was appointed as an Ambassador of the Department of Energy’s, Minorities in Energy initiative. Also in 2015, Mr. Davis was also recognized as one of the “Fifty Faces of Indian Country” by Indian Country Today Media Network. In May of 2016, Mr. Davis was appointed to the United States Small Business Administration’s Council on Underserved Communities.
Davis, along with his wife Carmen, also own the Davis Strategy Group which specializes in providing business consulting services as well as providing clients strategic communication, marketing, branding, event planning, digital strategy, and video production services. “Davis Strategy brings together over 25 years of business experience, vision and industry knowledge to help our clients grow their businesses,” said Davis. “We couldn’t be more passionate about helping others achieve their business goals.”
His new album “Revolutionary” is due in late 2017 and will be available online at all digital music stores including iTunes, GooglePlay and Tidal. A limited number of CD’s will be pressed and available exclusively at www.litefoot.com.
The Medicine of Prayer
1992 – The Money E.P.
1993 – Native Tongue
1994 – Seein’ Red
1996 – Good Day To Die
1998 – The Clown Kutz
1998 – The Life & Times
1998 – Red Ryders Vol.1
1999 – Red Ryders Vol. 2
1999 – Rez Affiliated
1999 – The Lite Years 1989–1999 – The Best of Mr. Foot
2001 – Tribal Boogie
2002 – The Messenger
2003 – Native American Me
2004 – Redvolution
2008 – Relentless Pursuit
2017 – Redvolutionary (June)
|The Indian in the Cupboard||Little Bear/Lead Actor||Paramount Pictures/Frank Oz|
|Mortal Kombat Annihilation||Nightwolf/Lead Actor||New Line Cinema/Jon Leonetti|
|Kull the Conqueror||Ascalante/Lead Actor||Universal Pictures/John Nicollela|
|Adaptation||Russell/Supporting Actor||Columbia Pictures/Spike Jonez|
|29 Palms||Warrior #1/Lead Actor||Artisan/Leonardo Ricagni|
|The Song of Hiawatha||Hiawatha/Lead Actor||Hallmark Entertainment/Jeff Shore|
|The Pearl||Juan Tomas/Lead Actor||Independent/Alfredo Zacharias|
|The Picture of Priority||Angel Whitecloud/Lead Actor||Independent/Mick Mapelli|
|House of Cards/Season 2 Episode 8||BIA Asst. Secretary Michael Frost||Netflix/James Foley|
|Any Day Now/No More, Forever||Charley Majors/Lead Actor||Lifetime Network/Tom McLoughlin|
|Family Law/Americans||John Grant/Lead Actor||CBS/Elodie Keen|
|Any Day Now/The Real Thing||Charley Majors/Lead Actor||Lifetime Network/Tom McLoughlin|
|CSI: Miami/Slow Burn||Card Dealer/Supporting Actor||CBS/Joe Chappelle|