Raising Maple Leaf on Iwo JimaBeach, who was brought up on the Dog Creek Indian Reserve in Manitoba and is a member of the Salteaux tribe, sees Hayes as an inspirational figure. He feels that portraying him has brought him closer to his personal goal of becoming an influential leader of the Indian nations.
"Ira Hayes is a hero to me," he says, dabbing his eyes. "He is like a lot of other heroes of war who struggled to maintain their dignity through those horrors. The American Indian in him kept him strong."