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 began his own business. His entrepreneurial spirit and love for music, specifically hip hop, led him to starting up Red Vinyl Records. After one year of hard work he began his career as the first Native American rap artist, releasing music, traveling the United States on tour and performing internationally.
His hard work soon 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.
Gary has become a prolific businessman, having helmed national business initiatives serving as the Co-Chair of the National Indian Gaming Association’s American Indian Business Network and led national Tribal business organizations serving as the CEO of the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development and Executive Director of the Native American Financial Services Association. Through the years Mr. Davis has diversified and furthered his entrepreneurial pursuits by investing in other family owned and operated companies including Native Business Magazine, Davis Strategy Group, Litefoot Enterprises, Native Style Clothing – all of which he operates with his wife Carmen Davis.
Mr. Davis authored and self-publishing his first book, The Medicine of Prayer. and will soon release his second self-published book entitled, Reclaim Your Narrative.
With more than 100,000 followers on social media, Gary shares inspirational and motivational thoughts via his FootNotes videos. Davis also hosts his own podcast, “The Litefoot Show” available wherever podcasts can be found, including iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Soundcloud.
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. He has received the Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency National Director Special Recognition Award, was appointed as an Ambassador of the Department of Energy’s, Minorities in Energy initiative and was also appointed to the United States Small Business Administration’s Council on Underserved Communities.
Mr. Davis motivates audiences nationwide as a public speaker. He has provided hundreds of keynotes and business trainings for corporations and Tribes. He has also lectured at a variety of colleges and universities including Virginia Tech, University of Wyoming, University of Wisconsin, University of North Carolina and University of Oregon. He has been a featured speaker for corporations and organizations including Amazon, PNC Bank, Sodexo, the FDIC, the United States Navy and the United States Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency.
Mr. Davis was recently chosen by Scholastic, Inc. to appear in their upcoming children’s book, “Native American Heroes”.
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
FROM MUSIC TO MOVIES
MORE MOVIES...MUSIC AND MARRIAGE.
MORE MUSIC, FASHION AND AN UNPRCEDENTED MOTIVATIONAL TOUR
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.
During this time Litefoot found himself spending more and more time providing his services as a business consultant. He 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. He served as co-chair of the National Indian Gaming Association’s, American Indian Business Network. And Mr. Davis also 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. In 2009, given his accomplishments as an entrepreneur, Litefoot began hosting national Tribal business conferences across Indian Country.
In 2010, Mr. Davis authored his first book entitled, The Medicine of Prayer (available at litefoot.com, iBooks, Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.com).
in 2011, Mr. Davis was asked to host the National Center For American Indian Enterprise Development’s (NCAIED), Reservation Economic Summit (RES) for the third time in as many years. At the event the leadership of the NCAIED asked Mr. Davis to join its 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 promoted Indian business globally and was invited by the U.S. Department of Commerce to travel with its delegation to Hanover Messe, the world’s largest business trade show located in Hanover, Germany. Though Mr. Davis was busy with his duties to the NCAIED, in 2014 he appeared in the Netflix series, House of Cards.
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 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.
NATIONAL LEADERSHIP, DAVIS STRATEGY GROUP, NATIVE BUSINESS & NATIVE AMERICAN HEROES
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.” Mr. Davis has also served as a member of the Forbes Finance Council since 2018.
In late 2016 Gary and his wife Carmen began Davis Strategy Group, which works with a select list of clients focused on growing business and economic opportunity in Indian Country.
In 2017, Davis also began an inspirational daily video series called “Footnotes” which are short motivational and informative video recordings.
In 2018, Gary, and his wife Carmen Davis, founded Native Business Magazine, a digital media company aimed at promoting, inspiring and advancing Native American business, entrepreneurship and economic development. Native Business publishes its content online at nativebusinessmag.com, via its App (available via the Apple App and Google Play Stores), the Native Business Podcast, and Native Business Videos. Gary and Carmen also produce the annual Native Business Summit.
In 2019 Mr. Davis was asked to join the Board of Directors of the Seattle International Film Festival and was chosen by Scholastic, Inc. to appear in their upcoming children’s book, “Native American Heroes”.
Today, Gary continues to motivate audiences nationwide as a public speaker. Over the years, he has provided hundreds of keynotes and business trainings for corporations and tribes. He has also lectured at a variety of colleges and universities including Virginia Tech, University of Wyoming, University of Wisconsin, University of North Carolina and University of Oregon. He has been a recent featured speaker for corporations and organizations including Amazon, PNC Bank, Sodexo, the FDIC, the United States Navy and the United States Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency.
Davis also has his own podcast, “The Litefoot Show” which features his wife Carmen as his co-host. “For over 20 years I have had the pleasure of speaking in countless Tribal communities and at conferences in many other countries. Podcasts are a rapidly growing medium and an excellent way for me to directly express my views, interact with listeners and engage with Indian Country and the world,“ said Davis. “The show is a cool way for me to continue to connect with people everywhere and Carmen and I have a lot of fun doing every episode.” Audio episodes of the Litefoot Show are available via iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and Soundcloud, and wherever podcasts can be found.
For over two decades, Mr. Davis has meshed his success as an entrepreneur, with his passion to better the future of Indian Country in the hopes that his life and accomplishments will serve as a source of inspiration for others.
- 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
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
- 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
|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 Ep. 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|