movie scene

Props were very important - the right kind of bows, the hackamore bridles, the Indian household goods.

Just about everything was built for us, by people who reconstruct artifacts for the Smithsonian.

-Jeffrey Beecroft
Production designer

Did you know...

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from the book "Dances With Wolves, The Illustrated Story of the Epic Film" by Kevin Costner, Michael Blake, and Jim Wilson © 1990 by Newmarket Press.

from the cast and more

thumbnail Before the time of the Christian, most of our culture was living by the rivers and moving out into the prairies to hunt, then back into the winter camps at the river bottoms. That lifestyle is very old. People have been traced back on this continent fifty thousand winters.

The last massacre was only a hundred winters ago. I was born forty-six winters ago. So in terms of time that is very short. Think about fifty thousand winters… then you have a deeper understanding of what kind of culture it took to survive. I think this is an important film to show the world the reality of how it was then.

-Floyd Crow Westerman :: Ten Bears

thumbnail My great-grandfather was a member of Big Bear's tribe, one of the last in northern Canada to sign treaties. Our way of understanding life, our concept of the earth as a living being, was alien to the people who came here. They knew so much, they didn't have anything to learn from us. And that gave them permission to see us as ignorant.

People came to North America for religious freedom, and where did the land come from to live on? From people who are persecuted. Our children were taken away and put in boarding schools so they wouldn't grow up to be Indian. Our language was outlawed; we were not allowed to pray in the Indian way, or wear Indian clothing, or live in the Indian way. That was a conscious thing: we have to make these people into white people.

Maybe in their own way they were saying, our way of life is good and you should have that. But it was not love that did those things. When your spiritual freedom is taken away, that's the water of your soul.

-Tantoo Cardinal :: Black Shawl

thumbnail I was brought up without much sense of my Indian heritage, and now I'm slowly learning what my people were and the traditions behind them. My tribe was one of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, which had a very sophisticated structure and political system. Ben Franklin, bless his little soul and his kite, used the Confederacy as a model for the U.S. Constitution.

There was a real Kicking Bird, a Kiowa chief, that Michael based his character on. He did believe that the country was going to be overrun with white people, and believed that he should create a liaison with the whites so they could live together - but his people didn't like that, and the story goes that he was eventually killed because of it.

-Graham Greene :: Kicking Bird

thumbnail A warrior like Wind In His Hair is the spirit and backbone of the community. He wins respect by displaying courage, by defending his people, by showing good moral character. My tribe, the Omaha, were not a warring tribe. Our reservation is on the Missouri River, where we've been for a long time. People coming up and down the river would stop and visit the Omaha because they were known to be a generous people.

I was one of those who chose to surrender their heritage when I was young - I thought, what do we need that for? We're a new generation; we need to learn the white man's ways to survive. But to survive you need both worlds. You need an identity, your inner self who you actually are. And I guess if you say you're Indian, then you've got to know what ‘Indian’ is.

-Rodney Grant :: Wind In His Hair

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