Kickapoo Tribe has role in upcoming movie filmed in Kansas

Horton, Kansas (AP) 1-08

Despite limited acting experience, Tammy Wahwassuck and about 20 members of the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas have small roles in the upcoming movie “The Only Good Indian.”

The movie was filmed in locations throughout Kansas and uses the Kickapoo language.

Wahwassuck said her acting experience before this movie didn’t extend much beyond childhood performances in the living room with her cousins.

But now she’s part of the film, starring American Indian actor Wes Studi.

Producers got permission from the Kickapoo Tribe of Kansas to use the Kickapoo language in the film.

The movie is set in Kansas during the early 1900s and is about a young American Indian boy who flees from a school that assimilates Indians into the “white” world.

Studi, who has appeared in “Dances with Wolves” and “The Last of the Mohicans,” portrays an American Indian bounty hunter who intends to take the boy back to the school.

Wahwassuck’s played a crazy woman in a mental institution filmed in Topeka.

In the scene, she pleads in the Kickapoo tongue for help from Studi’s character.

“It’s hard to describe,” she said of her experience. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”

Steve Cadue, Kickapoo Tribal chairman, said it was important that the film portray American Indians accurately and without prejudice.

He became acquainted with the writers and the producers before the Kickapoo Tribal government gave formal approval for the use of the language.

“They gave us good assurances that it would be a positive type of film,” said Cadue, who didn’t volunteer as an extra, but watched from the sidelines.

The reservation is hopeful that Studi will make good on their invitation to speak at the Kickapoo school.

“I think he’s a great individual,” Cadue said. “I think he works hard and I think he tries to give back to the Native American community ... He is contributing to Indian education and correct historic accounts of native American people.”

The crew plans to attempt to sell the movie to a distributor once it is completed in mid-2008, said Scott Richardson, a producer.

The film’s director, Kevin Willmott, an assistant professor of film at The University of Kansas, was also the writer and director of “C.S.A.: Confederate States of America,” a satire of what the United States would be like had the South won the Civil War. It was shown in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.

Willmott also is writer, director and producer of “Bunker Hill,” another film shot in Kansas.