Tantoo Cardinal Blazes Trail to Bring Authenticity to Native American Films

Actress will be honored at Native FilmFest



Tantoo Cardinal will be honored with the 2014 Richard M. Milanovich Award for Distinguished Contributions to Indigenous Film at the 13th annual Native FilmFest March 9 at Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs.

Photo by Nadya Kwandibans

 

When Tantoo Cardinal began her acting career in the early 1970’s, there were few Native American parts available, let alone leading roles.

“I really didn’t break into acting. It was an opportunity that came my way and I liked it,” she says. “For me, it was also very much a part of the process to move forward an awareness of Native American people and culture, and change the perception in a lot of minds that Native American’s were locked away in a dead-vault, a part of a past history.”

Tantoo Cardinal has blazed a trail ever since, meshing award winning acting talents with her passion for ensuring Aboriginal people, their cultures, and the historic and current issues impacting their communities are fairly represented throughout the arts.

  • Among her 80-plus credits are Legends of the Fall, Black Robe, Smoke Signals, and North of 60.
  • Cardinal was inducted as a member into the Order of Canada for her outstanding contributions.
  • She received the 2013 American Indian Film Festival Awards Best supporting actress honor for her role in Maina.
  • Breakthrough roles according to Cardinal: Canada’s Loyalties and Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves.

Cardinal will arrive in the desert this week to receive the 2014 Richard M. Milanovich Award for Distinguished Contributions to Indigenous Film at the 13th annual Native FilmFest, which runs March 4-9 at Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs. Cardinal will be honored prior to the screening of Maina at 8 p.m. March 9.

Fearless

Interested in making changes to how indigenous peoples were depicted in image and films, Cardinal has strived to bring authenticity to her roles and be true to her heritage when working with film producers.

“I felt misrepresented, and I had to have many conversations to negotiate changes before accepting a contract,” Cardinal says. “In fact, I refused a role until they changed the dialogue in a script. The manner of speaking in the script was strange and not a true part of our world view. Acting has allowed me to give a fairer representation of Native Americans.”

Cardinal’s noticed her bold stance did not go unnoticed.

“Each time I went on screen, it had an impact on our people,” Cardinal says. “People expressed a sense of pride in presenting women with strength, intelligence, and integrity. One woman thanked me for being an inspiration to her young daughters who wanted to be in movies…to let them know Native Americans could have this opportunity.”

Favorite Film/Role – “An Independent film called, Where the River Flows North. It was a female principal role and she had a manner of speaking. She was from a world of women that nobody writes about or sees, and she was a combination of many women I had known with a survivalist kind of background.”

Like what you're reading? Then "Like" us on Facebook and "follow" us on Twitter.

Add your comment:
Desert Guide

Related Articles

Explore Palm Springs: La Plaza Shopping Center

Still a thriving shopping center, La Plaza breathes life into Palm Springs' downtown shopping district just as it has done for more than 70 years.

Lasers Light Up Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

Turn off the lights at Fantasy Springs Bowling Center at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, and one of America’s oldest recreational sports literally illuminates a whole new persona - laser bowling.

The Purple Room Audience May Recognize Shelagh Ratner's Voice First

Once she appears Sept. 20 at The Purple Room Restaurant & Stage in Palm Springs, it’s likely audience members will have an “aha!” moment upon hearing Shelagh Ratner’s voice.

Charles Busch Brings His Own Show to Copa Palm Springs

Charles Busch, who has portrayed female characters for most of his theater career, will personify Old Hollywood in his solo desert show debut.

Max Adler Delves into Gay Character Again With 'Saugatuck Cures'

Max Adler, known for his breakout role on 'Glee', has a busy fall in store between three films and two TV shows, but locally he can be seen in 'Saugatuck Cures' during Cinema Diverse Palm Springs.

Promotions + Contests

Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter to Win A Celebrate Dance Experience!

Enter just once for a chance to win tickets to one of the second annual Palm Desert International Dance Festival performances.