WETUMKA, Oklahoma – Mvskoke citizen Edwin Marshall was chosen to be a language consultant for the upcoming miniseries “1883: The Bass Reeves Story”, which is set to premiere on Paramount+. Bass Reeves was the first African American Deputy U.S. Marshal west of the Mississippi River. During his 32-year career as a Deputy U.S. Marshal Reeves is believed to have over 3,000 arrests including that of his son’s for murder.
Reeves was born a slave to Arkansas state legislator William Steele Reeves and moved to Texas with William as a child where he stayed until the Civil War. William’s son, Colonel George Reeves joined the Confederate Army and took Bass with him. Sometime during the Civil War Bass escaped slavery and fled to Indian Territory where he lived among the tribes until the 13th Amendment passed. Around 1875, James Fagan appointed Reeves as a Deputy U.S. Marshal because he could speak multiple Native languages and knew his way around Indian Territory.
Moses “Mo” Brings Plenty, an Oglala Lakota from South Dakota and famously known as Mo on Yellowstone, attended an Intertribal meeting at River Spirit and shared Taylor Sheridan’s vision of the miniseries on Bass Reeves. Brings Plenty met with Muscogee Nation Principal Chief David Hill to find a Mvskoke language consultant.
Chief Hill recommended Marshall to Brings Plenty to be the language consultant. Marshall is a first language speaker and has been involved with the Muscogee Nation in various roles over the years. Marshall worked as Seminole Nation’s Language Program Director, has a Facebook group “The Original Muscogee Word of the Day” with over 10,000 members, and has provided speeches in the Mvskoke language at many public events.
Marshall is of the Fuswvlke clan, a member of Tukvpvtce tribal town and the Alabama-Coushatta Indian Baptist Church in Wetumka. He grew up in a multigenerational household of first language speakers.
Another advantage Marshall has for this opportunity is that Chiefs from the Five-Civilized Tribes appointed him to be the Intertribal Inaugural Representative to the U.S. Marshals Museum Board of Directors. During his time working with the museum, he expanded his knowledge of Reeves and played a part in proposing recognition of Tribal Lighthorse Officers’ part in working with the Marshals in Indian Territory. There is now a 13’ tall Lighthorse statue at the museum in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. He was on the museum’s board until 2017.
Marshall is working with the network by translating, phonetically spelling Mvskoke words, and ensuring words are pronounced correctly. He is able to work with the cast on pronunciation on set or over video calls or phone calls.
“I would like to think that our citizens would take pride in hearing their own language on the big screen, to hear someone speaking Mvskoke whether they’re Creek or Seminole,” Marshall said.
The team behind “1883: The Bass Reeves Story” seems to want to represent the different tribes in the series accurately. There are also language consultants for other tribes that play a role.
“That’s one of the highlights in this business now is that there’s a shift and now people want everything accurate when it comes to language, culture, and hopefully it’ll be inspiring for our young people to pick up and embrace their identity, their full identity,” Brings Plenty said. “It’s just a great honor to be able to have Edwin on board with us to share the language.”
Brings Plenty continued, “We’re building a good friendship and rebuilding and reconnecting Indian Country.”
The airdate for the miniseries has not yet been released.