Native Americans have been depicted in film since the earliest days of Hollywood, but often in ways that pushed negative and offensive stereotypes.
A sea change has occurred in recent years, with the success of Native-led film and TV film projects including Peacock’s sitcom “Rutherford Falls,” the drama “Wild Indian” and FX’s dramedy “Reservation Dogs.”
Now, Native American tribes are working to expand their role in film and TV production to help revitalize and diversify their lands’ economies, as well as improve representation of Indigenous people onscreen.
While some states have included diversity as part of the qualifications for their production tax incentives, last week the Cherokee Nation went a step further, introducing what it said was the first film incentive offered by a Native American tribe — a cash rebate of up to 25% — to filmmakers who shoot on its land. The credit is in addition to Oklahoma’s existing film tax credit.
“Helping an industry get introduced to the region and to [get]a foothold is important,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Those are all great opportunities for our people and really just to generate some economic vitality in an area that could use it.”
Oklahoma is not a big destination for Hollywood productions. But its film business has been growing rapidly in recent years as the state has beefed up its incentives.
Despite the pandemic, production expenditures in Oklahoma reached $170.4 million in fiscal year 2021, up from $32.6 million in the previous year.
Among the projects that have filmed in Oklahoma are “Reservation Dogs”; the film “Stillwater” featuring Matt Damon; HBO Max’s “Land of Gold”; and Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the upcoming Apple+ film about the murder of members of the Osage tribe in mysterious circumstances in the 1920s. See more at the LA Times.