ICYMI: ‘Reservation Dogs’ Actor Joins Writers Room, Talks Tulsan-Led Collab | Television

Dallas Goldtooth went from rider to writer on “Reservation Dogs.”

Goldtooth was riding a horse when he introduced himself to viewers in the show’s premiere episode filmed in Oklahoma last year.

Goldtooth plays William Knifeman, a spirit warrior who died at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. He did not engage in combat because his horse entered a gopher hole and fell, crushing its rider.

Since that day, Knifeman has traveled the spirit world to find lost souls. Among them is Bear Smallhill (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai), one of four young natives who, in season one, plot to leave small-town life behind for a fresh start in California. .

Goldtooth’s hapless warrior spirit guides Bear through the first season of the groundbreaking, award-winning series.

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Tribal Officer Big (Zahn McClarnon, right) talks to Elora Danan Postoak (Devery Jacobs) and Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis) during a Season 1 episode of ‘Reservation Dogs’, filmed in the ‘Oklahoma.


Courtesy, Shane Brown, FX


The second season will premiere with back-to-back episodes on Wednesday, August 3 via FX on Hulu. The Goldtooth character will return. Bonus: Goldtooth co-wrote the first two episodes with Ryan RedCorn and Sterlin Harjo, a Tulsa filmmaker who co-created the series with Taika Waititi. Goldtooth and Devery Jacobs, who plays Elora Danan Postoak, have been invited to join the writers room for season two.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am for this moment,” Goldtooth said in an interview set up ahead of the season two premiere.

“I mean, we’ve worked together – Sterling, Ryan and the other 1491s – for almost 15 years. We’ve come a long way to where our names are now going to be on TV.

The 1491? Before “Reservation Dogs”, Goldtooth, Harjo, RedCorn, Bobby Wilson and Goldooth’s half-brother Migizi Pensoneau were in the 1491s a native sketch group so named because Christopher Columbus arrived the following year. Now the five 1491s are on board for “Reservation Dogs,” which employs Indigenous talent in front of and behind the camera.

Excerpts from the Q&A with Goldtooth:

What is the secret origin of the 1491?

“Oh, man. We were just rambling kids who just wanted to make videos to make people laugh, you know? Honestly, that’s how it started with us. We just wanted to make our families laugh.

“The origin of the 1491s is that they happened in Minnesota (where I’m from) and Oklahoma independent of each other. And we kind of got together after seeing each other’s work and decided to make a video together. In Minnesota, my brother Migizi and I started making videos just to make our families and people laugh and post them online. And Sterlin was in Minneapolis with Ryan RedCorn. Sterlin was doing a talk for one of his movies and we reached out and said, ‘Hey man, you wanna do a video together?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ So we brought in my buddy Bobby Wilson who had the keys to a youth center that we could use and we all did a video together and that was the Wolf Pack audition so that was the start We just had this desire to tell stories, to love doing it and to do it differently.







Sterlin Harjo

Before co-creating “Reservation Dogs”, Sterlin Harjo was in the 1491s, a native sketch group, with Dallas Goldtooth. “Sterlin has always wanted to tell stories. He has always wanted to share the stories of his peoples, his vision and the vision of his community. … This is reflected in the fact that he has demanded that the entire writing team was Indigenous and he required all directors to be Indigenous and he required the crew behind the camera to be Indigenous,” Goldtooth said.


Tom Gilbert, Tulsa World


So Sterlin happened to be in Minnesota and you all started teaming up?

“We immediately got on the same wavelength, our comedy and the things we find funny. And after that video, we started making more videos. We started getting requests to travel across the country and I am proud to say that through 1491 we have been able to see virtually every aspect of Indian Country over the years.

“And, as such, I feel like our comedy has expanded to really incorporate those stories that we encountered. And that’s why when you watch “Reservation Dogs” so many things that you see or so many things that native people see in the show reflect their daily lives because I feel like there’s a lot of universal struggle, isn’t it? There is a lot of universality in our experiences and so I feel lucky to be part of this experience that brings that to life.

Sterlin made you audition for William Knifeman because maybe they had you in mind?

“I didn’t know what was going on. And then he called me and said, ‘Hey, I want you to put on an audition tape for this role.’ He wanted me to audition for Big, the cop. Then he made me read at a second level for Spirit. I was going for both Big and Spirit. …I had no expectations.

We will see more of William Knifeman in the coming season?

“Spirit returns in season two and continues to deepen the mystical wisdom of the various characters. I can’t wait to see how people react to the season and to Spirit. I think a lot of people love the character of Spirit, so hopefully the wisdom that is being delivered this season will resonate with people.







Dallas Goldtooth

Dallas Goldtooth’s character Spirit shared his wisdom with Bear (D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai) during the first season of “Reservation Dogs.”


Jimmie Tramel



How does the Writers’ Room work? Does everyone gather in the writing room and, hey, here are the stories we’re going to tell in our episodes and figure out who does what?

“It’s the first time I’ve been in a writer’s room, I have no idea how they do that. I had no idea. I still have no idea what’s “normal” for a writer’s room. We did it our way. Sterlin did it his way, which is the hallmark of Sterlin. He’s like screwing up what other people are doing and aiming for expectations. We’re going to do it our way and make it amazing.

“The process was really collaborative. …Sterlin came in and said, hey, we’ve got 10 episodes and we started off with the big question “where do you want to end?” … Let’s work in this direction.

“And then, for the most part, it was just like, let’s talk history. What are some funny things that have happened in your life? What are your childhood experiences? Let’s explore that and the things we love and the things that made us laugh. These stories are what appear in the show.

“Chad Charlie is a first-time writer with me on the show. Chad Charlie, his Indigenous people are from British Columbia and he spoke about his experiences. There’s a story in there that we pulled into it. He wrote the third episode and there are elements of his life experiences that are woven into the third episode.







Booking Dogs Independent Spirit Awards

On behalf of “Reservation Dogs,” Devery Jacobs (left), Garrett Basch, Taika Waititi, Sterlin Harjo, Paulina Alexis, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Sarah Podemski and Zahn McClarnon accepted the award for Best New Series scripted (presented to them by Rhea Seehorn and Bob Odenkirk) at the 37th Film Independent Spirit Awards.


Jordan Strauss, Invision via AP


Why does “Reservation Dogs” work? Why do people like it?

“I think, on some level, for the vast majority of viewers, they’ve never seen a story like this. They have never seen a history of Native people living in a contemporary setting in rural Oklahoma. For those who live in rural areas, it’s rare that we see stories that talk about life in a small town. …

“And I think on a more personal level for Indigenous people, that really resonates because we tell stories that mean something to us that don’t trivialize our experience or over-dramatize. The show explores the nuances of what it means to be an Indigenous person today. And it’s terrifying, exciting and charming all at the same time.

“So I think it brings all these different intersections together, which from my limited experience of being in Oklahoma is a great example of Oklahoma. Oklahoma is such an intersection of culture that people don’t even realize it.”

Red carpet, first events of season 2

A “Reservation Dogs” red carpet premiere featuring select representatives from the series is scheduled for Friday, July 29 at the River Spirit Casino.

FX’s second-season premiere of Hulu’s “Reservation Dogs” arrives at Circle Cinema with a free community screening at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, August 3.

The free screening at Circle Cinema will include the first two episodes of the new season.

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