About

BIO

Eric Schweig (born Ray Dean Thrasher on 19 June 1967) is a First Nations actor best known for his role as Chingachgook’s son Uncas in The Last of the Mohicans (1992).

Eric Schweig was born in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, from Inuvialuit and Portuguese lineage on his mother’s side. Eric was the oldest of seven children, who were all adopted out as part of an assimilation programme. Schweig’s biological mother died of alcoholism in 1989. He never met her. “She didn’t drink a drop of alcohol until we were taken away,” says Schweig. “We were part of the whole assimilation program—forcibly taken away. But they told us that we weren’t.”

Schweig was adopted at the age of six months by an English speaking German-French family. He spent his childhood in Inuvik until he was six, when his family moved to Bermuda. They later moved back to Canada, to Combermere, Ontario where he spent the majority of his childhood. Schweig’s adoptive parents were severely abusive. In 1999, at the Vancouver Inner City Foster Care Conference, Eric Schweig delivered a heartfelt testimony about his painful experience of adoption and abuse.

ACTING

When he was 16, Eric ran away to Toronto, Ontario, where he supported himself by framing houses. In 1985, he was part of the cast of The Cradle Will Fall, an experimental adaptation of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening produced by Theatre of Change at the Actor’s Lab; this was his first experience as an actor. In 1987, at twenty years old, he was approached by a producer who suggested he audition for a role in the movie called The Shaman’s Source (1990) starring Billy Merasty. With little formal education or experience he won the role. The film launched his career in the film industry.

Schweig’s numerous screen credits (over thirty) include his portrayal of Uncas in the epic motion picture The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Pike Dexter in the movie Big Eden (2000), for which he won the Grand Jury Prize at the Outfest Film Festival. In 1992, he was cast as Black Thunder in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation mini-series By Way of the Stars with Gordon Tootoosis as the Cree Chief and Tantoo Cardinal as Françoise. It was shot in Uxbridge, Ontario. He starred in The Scarlet Letter and Disney’s Tom and Huck  in 1995.

Among his period film credits since The Last of the Mohicans, Eric became the famous Mohawk leader Joseph Brandt/Thayendanegea for TNT’s telefilm The Broken Chain (1993), playing for the first time the main character in a movie. It was shot entirely in Virginia.

More recently, Eric Schweig has played the lead role in films and TV series addressing more contemporary issues facing aboriginal and Native American people: Skins (2002), Cowboys and Indians: The J.J. Harper Story (2003), One Dead Indian (2006) and Blackstone (2011-2015).

CARVING

Eric Schweig has been an artist since he was a kid. Basically self taught, he looked at Russian books of Inuit masks for inspiration. During the 90s, Schweig began an artistic quest to regain his aboriginal roots. Since his childhood, like many Inuit, Eric has carved small objects in wood or stone (figures, kayak, etc.). Under the coaching of artist Vern Etzerza, he studied traditional Pacific Coast carving before directing his talent specifically towards traditional Inuit Spirit Masks, in collaboration with master carver Art Thompson.

His collection of masks are not only successful attempts to reconnect with his heritage and with Inuit art, but his carvings are also necessary labours of psychological resilience facing a traumatized childhood. As a disastrous consequence of this uprooting and abuse, Schweig struggled for many years against alcohol abuse and drug abuse. He has stated that Skins (2002) was the first movie in which he was entirely sober.

YOUTH OUTREACH

His fame as an actor gives him the opportunity to share his life’s experience in numerous speeches he presented in Canada and the United States of America. He was able to make a large audience aware of aboriginal issues, especially the care of First Nations children. He has worked for some years as a full time Resource Assistant for Youth, providing assistance to inner-city youth.

Schweig currently resides in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Eric Schweig working for RaY in Winnipeg – http://www.rayinc.ca

OTHER OCCUPATIONS

Archery

Music

Motorcycle

Spokesperson for NAWA in 2002.

Hunting (2016)

Hunting (2016)

Contact Michelle Shining Elk

  1. good information. I met Eric in 1983; shortly after he ran away from home. We were both struggling artist; he was learning to play guitar, as was I. I was playing in coffee houses, and trying to find my way in the big city, having left there at 5 years old. I was 20. we both went for the co-lead in ‘Shaman’s source’, but he won the role. I knew he was an actor; I had done some theater and a documentary film at the time, and had just signed with an agent, and was trying to break in, when he got that role. I was playing in a band that was becoming successful in Ottawa in 1987, 4 Way Street, when we crossed paths again, this time during that audition. He lived part of that time with my family. We have stayed in touch over the years; he showed up at gigs I performed solo and with my band ‘The Cornbinders’ on the West Coast, and he walked in on another show I was playing in Ottawa, this past year. I won a Native-E Music Award in 2008; I continued playing music, but oddly enough, we never got to really jam, except once, on the north shore in Vancouver, as he was training to become a carver. We remain friends. He is a great ambassador for native children’s rights, and an outspoken person about many issues, especially concerning music, and art, and of course, us Native Peoples and Inuit.

    • Thank you very much for this nice comment, and congratulations on your Native-E Music Award in 2008.

      The first years of an artist’s life are particularly difficult, and friendships that are forged during this period can last a lifetime. I wish you both to always keep this beautiful friendship.

  2. I was so touched to read this bio about Eric Schweig I have been a fan ever since his portrayal of Uncas in Last of the Mohicans. I always felt there was something really special about him as a person and his performance resonated with me long after the film ended. After reading the story of his upbringing I can see why he brought such a poignancy to the role of Uncas despite the fact he had so few lines and the thought that he may not have been sober. I live in Australia where the assimilation program is known as The Stolen Generation where so many aboriginal children were taken from their families. I know of families who are still trying to reconcile with loved ones. Did Eric ever look or find his siblings? It is so sad but what an amazing man I am deeply moved by his story and I hope that he continues to educate and help the youth of today especially those of his own culture. Bless you E ric.

  3. Marhadi Prayitno Drinnenberg

    Greetings from Jakarta, Indonesia, Mr. Schweig. I don’t know much about you except having watched your great film The Last of the Mohicans. I just want to salute and congratulate you for all the achievements you have reached until now. Do stay healthy and happy in life… Carry on creating and contributing for the sake of love and peace within the humanity… Take care, Sir.

  4. I met a woman out west, who said she was his sister by blood,and I believe it, her name is Nina, and she is a throat singer I believe living in Montreal, Canada. I have known Eric since he was about 17. I was living in Toronto, trying to become and actor and musician, and we became fast friends. I have watched his development both as a person, and actor,fora few years, in our on-and-off contact over the past 30-odd years. He is an outspoken person, a good soul, and a great carver of masks, and not a bad guitarist…he always had something to say, something funny, usually.when we hung out in Vancouver, or other places around Canada. He continues to do great work, talking with youth, helping them in places around Canada and the U.S. Let’s hope he continues his work, and continues to be an advocate for native peoples, and helper of youth…

  5. Tak jak wielu poruszyła mnie twoja historia. Rozumiem twoją chęć odkrycia prawdy o swojej przeszłosci. Im jesteśmy starsi, tym chyba częściej zadajemy sobie pytanie dlaczego? Na wiele z nich z pewnością nie uzyskamy odpowiedzi. Ja też nie zdążyłam zapytać swojej matki dlaczego mnie biła i poniżała. W wieku 15-16 lat też chciałam uciec z domu. Nie miałam jednak tyle odwagi co ty. Zaciskałam pięści i zęby. Nie płakałam. To był mój odwet za to co mi robiła. W Polsce, gdzie mieszkam jest takie powiedzenie: co cię nie zabije to cię wzmocni. Szczera prawda. Ja też się nie złamałam. Podziwiam cię za to obecnie robisz, za to ile dajesz serca innym, a zwłaszcza za pomoc młodzieży. Mam nadzieję, że kiedyś rozprawisz się z przeszłością i zaznasz wewnętrznego spokoju, a wtedy będziesz naprawdę szczęsliwy. Tego ci z głębi serca życzę. Serdecznie pozdrawiam. Małgorzata z Polski.
    Uśmiechnij się.

    • Translation :
      Like many, your story moved me. I understand your desire to uncover the truth about his past. The older we get, the more I think often we ask ourselves why? Many of them will not get an answer. I do not have time to ask my mother why she beat and humiliated. At the age of 15-16 years also wanted to run away from home. But I did not have as much courage as you. Clenched fists and teeth. I did not cry. It was my revenge for what I did. In Poland, where I live there is a saying: What does not kill you makes you stronger. True. I do not broke. I admire you for doing it now, but if you give heart to others, and especially for helping young people. I hope that one day or deal with the past and the inner peace you will live, and if you’re really lucky. That I wish with all my heart. I cordially greet. Margaret from Polish.
      Smile.

  6. Bonjour,
    J’habite en France et ne trouve pas les mots pour vous témoigner mon admiration ,
    Vous êtes un homme bon, et ma joie serait immense si vous répondiez vous même .
    Prenez soin de vous .
    Karina

  7. my family and i love “last of the mohicans” and “skins”, “skins” was the funniest native movie i have ever seen………keep up the great work

  8. I have watched last of the mohicans at least 50 times. Eric is amazing…..!

  9. I’m not sure why but I had an inkling to listen to the “Last of the Mohican’s” soundtrack. I love this movie and the music. And I also loved the performance by Eric. I never realised his history of abuse but am so happy he was able to rise above it and find his calling. He seems to be so multi-talented and such spiritual depths to his persona. I always thought he was the most beautiful man too. I would love to see his carvings in person – and him too!

  10. la peli “el ultimo mohicans”m super gusto,es exelente,Eric es brillante ….

  11. Sou sua fã , admiro seu trabalho com a arte esculturas.

    abraços
    karla ………BRASIL

  12. Christine Ascencio

    I saw the movie One Dead Indian and Last of the Mohicans. I have always felt bad for the way Native Amerians have been treated. I have heard there is an Native American school in Carlisle, Pa. I was disgusted to find out how the children were forcibly taken from their families and sent here. I was sickened to learn tat they were forced to learn English and white ways and had to have white names. I feel bad for the families. I am sickened by the way they are treated and how you and your brothers and sisters were treated. I have always been angry as a child growing up and watching westerns how the indians were treated and called savages when it is the whites who are the savages!!

  13. I am a big fan of Eric but in my country, Korea it is so limited to get the movies or dramas that he played in . Apart from the Last Mohican, Casino Jack where we can see him for five minutes was all.
    If anyone could advise me how I could get drama such as “Blackstone” or “Cashing in” of Eric Schweig, it will be highly appreciated.

  14. How on earth did they make such a handsome man look like he did in The Missing – most impressive.
    Peter Liverpool UK

  15. La Donna Aldridge

    There is a language of words unspoken yet deep resonance and understanding that each character Eric portrays speaks to my spirit.
    It’s no mystery as to why. Before the universe was created Eric has been blessed with many talents and above all Grit. The grit to move beyond his circumstances and share his blessings with us all. My spirit is blessed. -LD-

  16. Aloha Eric,

    My path of 52 years so far includes a journey as an out gay shaman (four traditions) mixed with walking as a social worker dedicated to awakening equality locally and globally. I stumbled upon this site after savoring Big Eden (for the fourth time). Pike’s character inspired tears of knowing. One day, should you (or someone who know’s you) read this, I’d be honored and delighted to interview you on your journey, to include your decision to accept the role of Pike. My listeners will learn from you. I look forward to sharing your wisdom!
    Aho Mitakuye Oyasin
    Soul

  17. I love the movie the last of the mohicans. And, Mr. Eric performance it’s excellent. I started to notice him just for his face, which is such a rare beauty. I think, that beauty comes from inside. Although, he didn’t speak much in the movie as someone said, he didn’t need it. He’s beautiful face and performance made out. And, it hit me so hard to know about his painful life. But, he has proved himself the great human being that he was suppose to be. He has found himself. And, not only that. He didn’t let the ambitions of power and money of some miserables steel his essence, his spirit. I take off my hut before a wonderful human being.

  18. This is a really great site! So much information. I’ve only seen Eric’s work on Blackstone but I recently had to opportunity to act opposite him in a teaser for a new web series that tackles land claims in a super personal way. He was excellent and thrilling to watch work. We had a lot of fun. You can view the teaser at http://www.inheritanceseries.com. If you comment or like the series on You Tube you can help it get financed.

  19. Hey there, your art is absolutely beautiful. I hope that you are still creating these amazing masks. I just wanted to say I respect and admire your entire body of work, you are a great actor and a great all around artist. Just wanted to say that, have an wonderful weekend

  20. You really captured me in Last of The Mohicans. Your face said so much. Not only being incredibly handsome, but just the emotion and sincerity it held. My heart was just captured by you. I’ve seen the movie countless times and tonight I decided to read up about you. You’ve been through a lot and I’m sorry about that. So happy how you captured so many passi Bs in your life and chose good paths. I’ll have to check out some of your other movies.

  21. I like him in the movie. Last of the Mohicans. And so I wish him luck in many more movies. Why not make a video game of the movie Last of the Mohicans. Also I’m working on a comic book about an Native American. Afraid more procrastination than hard work though.

  22. Me encanta, lo encuentro sensacional ¡¡ Me gustaría algún día conocerlo. Es mi gran sueño

  23. Sometime around 1996 or so I had the opportunity to meet Eric. My son who was about nine at the time was a big fan of Last of the Mohicans. We found out Eric was filming a movie called Follow the River in near by N Carolina and somehow got hold of him on the phone. He invited my son to go down and meet him. I was really impressed. He is incredibly kind and was great with a little boy who thought he was the coolest thing ever. A couple of years later Josh was making his second video for a local kids video contest. There had been recent cutbacks in our school in music, art, and theater programs which really affected him as both a chorus member and a member of the drama class and club. Eric agreed to an interview on carving and how the art was important to him. Josh spent several years involved in local theater and music. Unfortunately he got involved with drugs and alcohol when he was about 16 or 17. However after the birth of his daughter he turned his life around completely. He is active in NA and has done extensive public speaking about teens and drugs and how being a parent as a recovering addict impacts his life daily. Anyway I just wanted to say I think Eric is a pretty terrific guy having overcome the turmoil and horrors in his life and now reaching out to help others. Seeing my son’s struggles I better understand the difficulties he has experienced with addiction. I recently published my second work of fiction which I partly dedicated to Eric who was the inspiration for one of the characters.

  24. I thank him simply to have given me in one blue moment the force to keep on looking to him as young wonderful beautyful man .thank you from my heart.susann

  25. Wilfred Joey Klein

    Hi. I was wondering how i might be able to get in touch with him. I am an artist who was also born in inuvik. I now live in fort simpson. I am am artist who loves to paint northern lights and would love to meet him. I have done a recoceint painting of the igloo church with northern lights. I would be honored if he was to sign it.
    Thanks for your help
    Wilfred joey klein

  26. I just watched by way of the stars with Eric sweig. It is such a great movie. A must see.

  27. Profoundly beautiful expression. Powerfully charged emotionally. Words are not enough.
    I feel I should have one; for my own journey thru healing and re-discovery. I understand.

  28. Good morning! Eric you’ve comr mm e such a long way, going through a rough period of abuse when young, then alcoholism, but you never gave up and held your head high, what great strength and courage you have! I love your acting, your carvings, and your unselfish help to those that are not able to make ends meet. I like the loving and generous person that you are, uou don’t find many people like that after they’ve gone through some trials, but those trials are what makes us strong! Love your movies! I know women from all over the world drool over you, lol, I guess I’m no exception because you are handsome! I went through a rough period in my adult life as well, but I’m glad I got away when I did or the ex would’ve probably put me 6ft under. I support all women and children that are abused, domestic violence is one of the nastiest things here and nobody should have to go through these things! I’m happy we have overcome these things and continue to do good in our lives because of our children and grandchildren! Survival!! God bless and I’ll look for your upcoming movies

  29. caron Williamson

    THANKYOU

  30. I watched the Last of th Mohican and was hoping to somehow speak to Mr. Eric. I am German and Delaware Indian fromantic Phila
    , Pa

  31. This is a very interesting story. I myself have been adopted out….and I was born in ft smith, not in June 03, 1962…
    .I know how Eric felt..

  32. Good looking man…sorry to hear about his being taken away from his mother!

  33. I liked all of his movies.wish he would do more.

  34. If you are ever in or near Palmdale ‘s. I would like to meet you.

  35. Wilma Jean Shepherd Owens

    Thank you.

  36. I’ve never had the privilege of meeting Eric. I first saw him in Last of the Mohicans. I must say it is my favorite movie and have watched it well over 100 times. That was just the start. His masks are not only beautifully crafted, but spiritual and haunting as well. His testimony of his upbringing and the challenges met along the way to where he is now is truly moving. I hope to constantly see your work. You are an inspiration to us all.

  37. Eric thanks for the wonderful movies you have given us. The Arber Lives were hilarious. I am so sorry for your life journey you had to take hoeever it has made you into the prrson you are today. So many facets to your character. I amsorry for what my people have done to the American Indian. I have always wanted to say this to someone so that feeling will be to you. Please continue to do the great movies that you creat. Your is one of a kind. You have great vision in your creations. Someday I would like to chat with you. If that day never comes I will always be watching for you. May God always be watching over you as you continue on your life journey. Yours, Cindy. Chartley0616@gmail.com

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