Liz Gray/Managing Editor
TVLSE, Oklahoma – The Muscogee Nation hosted a community screening of the first two episodes of the latest production focusing on Native people and culture. At River Spirit’s Paradise Cove Aug. 1, audience members showed up in their best ribbon skirts, shirts and vests for the occasion.
Screenings for the new FX series on Hulu, “Reservation Dogs” were held at River Spirit Casino and Circle Cinema in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
During the event, it was announced that a scholarship had been made in honor of co-creator and executive producer Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Muscogee) for aspiring Mvskoke filmmakers and artists interested in the filmmaking industry. FX then pledged to contribute a match to the $10,000, making it a $20,000 scholarship for young storytellers.
“What he is inspiring in our Native youth, we want to make sure we are putting the support behind that and making sure we are investing in them,” MN Chief of Staff Tracie Revis said.
“Rez Dogs” raises the bar in Indigenous entertainment. The show depicts an authentic experience that feels specific to the Oklahoma Native American experience, yet has an all-inclusive Indigenous quality.
Chief TV critic Daniel D’Addario from entertainment news source Variety, called the series, “a lovely, eminently watchable triumph. It’s an overdue tribute to a sort of community it doesn’t mythologize. Instead, the show treats the reservation and its residents on their own terms, as worthy of being explored for just what it is, and just who they are.”
FX Vice President of Media Relations John Solberg said the network was blown away by the production.
“It all begins with empowering the people you hired to do the show,” Solberg said.
He explained how the network has made a significant effort to support representation behind the camera and on screen.
“We want to tell stories that represent the world,” he said.
Devery Jacobs (Mohawk), who plays Elora Danan, explained how the cast leaned on Harjo and his experience growing up in the Holdenville area of the Mvskoke Reservation.
“I think it was very much finding the specificity from this place that will inevitably make it universal for Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people alike,” Jacobs said.
Harjo said the series gives Native people the opportunity to tell their own stories in an industry where Natives are often overshadowed by non-Native leads.
“I feel like we’ve just blown them all out of the water,” he said.
Harjo credited the Native American comedy group, 1491s when taking on writing for a non-Native audience.
“They are trained to watch sad documentaries about Native people,” Harjo said. “You have to give them permission to laugh and let them in on the joke.
“Reservation Dogs,” premieres Aug. 9 on FX on Hulu.