Dan Nanamkin recently took a role as a Cultural Advisor in the recently released movie, “Hostile Territory,” which is described in IMDB.com to take place, “In post-Civil War America, when a Union soldier is presumed dead, his children are mistakenly sent away on the orphan train. This is a wild-west story of people uniting for the greater good, and children forced to grow up quickly.” In addition to the Cultural Advisor role, he also played a Lakota Chief, a part that was specifically created for him.
So, how did a member of the Colville Tribes end up in a production that took three months to film, in New Mexico and Colorado? Dan was on tour with a Country Band he met at the NO DAPL protest at Standing Rock in 2016. A friend of his was already on set with the movie and put in a good word for him. Dan already had experience on TV and in Movies. He appeared in an episode of United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell. He met with the director and producer and did some screen tests and demonstrated his horse-riding skills. He was able to accept an offer to join the production after being able to demonstrate his knowledge of Native regalia for the time period and tribes that would be in the movie. He had a 20-hour drive to make after getting off the phone because they needed him on-set immediately.
His time with the production was challenged by the extreme weather in Colorado. They filmed on-location outside of Pagosa Springs and Durango. They would leave early in the morning and not return until late at night. It would take 90 minutes to drive to their filming location. He had to regularly pull the crew out of the ditch on the winter roads. While he was on-set, he was furiously putting together regalia for background extras who also appeared in different scenes as different characters, so he had to make them look different and unique in each of their scenes. The budget was tight for what he could make for regalia and he got some help from friends that lent him their regalia. Eventually, he was able to get an assistant to manage all the work that was assigned to him.
Although the movie was filmed in 2019, Dan was not allowed to discuss any of his work, or post pictures to social media. For those who want to test the waters of acting, Dan says there are many casting calls he sees. It would be helpful for those aspiring to appear in movies or TV to have a good photo shoot for head shots. He believes many of our Native cowboys would be excellent in many of the roles being offered with their horsemanship. “Being able to ride bareback is another big plus.” Getting experience in smaller roles leads to more work later.
Dan hopes to see more Indigenous talent agencies to be able to share authentic Natives when casted in TV’s or movies. He looks forward to opportunities when Natives can tell their own stories.