That’s a wrap for four Native writers tasked with creating a groundbreaking TV series focused on Native themes and characters. It’s all part of the 2nd Annual Native American Writers Room, sponsored by the Cherokee Nation Film Office, a program which brings together four writers in an experimental writers room to address the lack of genuine Native American representation in television writers’ rooms and in overall media.

The result is “Talihina,” a one-hour drama focused on an underfunded Choctaw Hospital where conflict, mystery and murder within a small community in Oklahoma are highlighted. “Talihina” is described by the team as a gritty, period medical drama fused with small-town love that is gruesome and disturbing, yet darkly comedic.

The writers, who were selected through a competitive process, began working on the project in September of 2020. The participants worked together to develop an existing idea into a full episodic television series. They worked with expert consultants, experienced showrunners and studio creative executives for helpful feedback and learned to successfully pitch their project to big name television studios.

The project, hosted by the Barcid Foundation, has an advanced goal of giving emerging Native American writers the opportunity to work in an all Native American writers room. Cherokee Nation Citizen Tom Hanada, one of the four writers who participated in the lab describes his experience saying, “ Working with other Native writers is always a joy! Native characters in film and TV are so often reduced to tropes and stereotypes. But the Native writers I’ve worked with, through their diversity of life experiences and perspectives, are masters at crafting characters and situations that are rich, complex, and above all, real. The Native voice is one that definitely needs to be heard.”

Doane Avery (Inupiaq) also shared her positive experience working in the Native Writers Room saying, “Native representation on the screen and in the writers room has been so underrepresented throughout the history of television, that it was a supreme honor to be a part of an all-Native writers room committed to thoughtful creative storytelling with the intention of bringing authentic and powerful Native-driven content to the narrative space.”

Further development on “Talihina” will soon be underway as additional writers room days are being scheduled for January 2021 to finalize creative elements.

Congratulations to the Native writers on their accomplishment! We wish them much success in the years to come. You can learn more about the writers and their work below:

William Jehu Garroutte (Cherokee Nation)

Shelley Dennis (Choctaw Nation)

Tom Hanada (Cherokee Nation)

Doane Tulugaq Avery (Inupiaq)

The Cherokee Nation Film Office is proud to be a sponsor of the 2nd Native American Writers Room and the work they’re doing. CNFO is devoted to increasing the presence of Native Americans in every level of the film and television industries. Supporting an all Native writers room is one of the many ways we’re helping move the needle to have #MoreNatives represented in the industry.

You can read more about the 2nd Annual Writers Room here: https://cherokee.film/2nd-annual-native-american-writers-room-sponsored-by-cnfo/

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