Industry Spotlight: Dan Warrior has a larger-than-life passion for Native representation in film.

Dan Warrior (Mvskoke, Absentee Shawnee, Rosebud Sioux) has a larger than life presence. Standing at a modest 6’10” his presence commands a room. Over the last year those rooms have become studios and film sets, and it wasn’t just his stature that made him stand out, but his passion for Native-created content. Dan runs the gamut of artistry—he’s a graphic designer, a tattoo artist, and he’s even performed with the Oklahoma rock band “Travis Bond and the Rebel Souls.” Along with that, Dan has been involved in a handful of the productions that Oklahoma has been host to, including Seven Cemeteries with Danny Trejo. If there’s an opportunity to represent his Native community, he’s there. So naturally when productions like “Reservation Dogs” and Killers of the Flower Moon came to town, Dan was there to be a part of it.

Cherokee Nation Film Office had the chance to ask Dan about his growing film career, and what he hopes his presence on productions can do for the Native community as a whole.

Why is Native representation in film and television important to you?

I have a dream of continuing the legacy of Will Sampson and changing the stereotype of Native American actors and entertainers. We were de-humanized in old westerns to make us appear to be “less than” and “dumb.” Native Representation is monumental in this industry, because it makes us more human in the eyes of the world.

What is your dream project? 

I want to start a talent agency. Drum on a big stage. I would like to direct films one day. I have a gift for seeing the scene before we get there. I would also like to finish my book. I would like to conduct an orchestra at the Sydney Opera House.

What does the future of Native/Indigenous film look like?

This year was like “Big Bang” in the Native film galaxy! It’s only expanding momentum from here. Personally, I think it’s due to all of the Natives across the country joining arms and supporting each other’s creativity! I love seeing all these Native film crews popping up! Keep it going! Please. Our stories need to be told.

How does it feel to see the film and television industry put down roots in Oklahoma?

Like a blessing. I feel like Creator said “Alright, we’ve had enough! I had a plan when I brought all of these great Tribes and Nations together here in Oklahoma! They thought sending us here would make us weak, but it brought us together, and made us strong!” Collectively, Native creativity is amazingly ridiculous! Go check out local Native Artists! Also, it’s giving us a chance to see all the beauty of this land, and all the history of the Great Plains. We need to take advantage of this opportunity. So far, I’ve heard two names circulating around “Okiewood” and “Y’allywood.”

What was your role on Reservation Dogs, and how did it feel to be on an all-Native set?

I helped feed the cast and crew, every day for the entire 3 months of filming. When I walked up to set the first day, I heard drums and I saw a bunch of Native people walking around with very expensive film equipment I said to myself “Hey Lah, what are we about to do?” You know what we did? We started an Indigenous Movement! We united the world with the modern Native community! I got to know the cast and crew as Rez Dog family members! The better I did my job, the better they could do theirs. I was doing dishes in the rain at 2:00am on an open flame after a long day of filming in the Oklahoma sun. Sterlin [Harjo] carried a war club around set every day and his ferocious tenacity focus was a sight to be seen. Seeing an All Native set was historic! Every time I turned around Sterlin was like, “Hey can you give Uncle Wes [Studi] a cup of coffee?” Or “Uncle Brownie would like his latte brought to his lawnmower!” Gary Farmer, MikeBone, Goldtooth, 1491s— I mean, literal legends! I was proud to serve them.

Do you have any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

I played a Principal Chief of the Osage in the upcoming movie of the decade Killers of The Flower Moon. Scorsese shook my hand and said I was “Magnificent!” I don’t need to hear anything from anyone else, thank you! Also, two smaller films “Crossfire” and “Golly What A Day!” I basically play a giant 6’10” Native American superhero. I want tobe a superhero to my kids! I play a henchman for Sal Lopez from Full Metal Jacket and Selena.  Also, working with Efren Ramirez, who played Pedro in Napoleon Dynamite. I just got asked to be in a new Sasquatch movie that’s going to be shot next year in southeastern  Oklahoma. My goal is to be on as many red carpets as I possibly can.

What advice would you give to young people wanting to pursue a career in the film industry?

It’s Possible! You can do it! But, it’s very difficult. You have to put everything else in your life on pause. When they say “Go!” you gotta “Go!” But if you really want it and you’re doing it from the heart you will succeed! If you believe in the magic of film, your heart will be fulfilled.

Dan Warrior and his many skills are listed in our Native Talent Directory.

If you or someone you know want to be featured for your work in the film or television industry, let us know at hello@cherokee.film!

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