PBS film series casts Indiana Natives in “We Shall Remain”

By Kerry Davis 
Indianapolis, Indiana (NFIC) 3-09

Indiana, “Land of the Indians,” is one of the places Tecumseh called home.  It seems only fitting then, that the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) would choose Indiana to film Episode 2 of their upcoming series, We Shall Remain.

We Shall Remain is a groundbreaking mini-series and provocative multi-media project that establishes Native history as an essential part of American history. Five 90-minute documentaries spanning three hundred years tell the story of pivotal moments in U.S. history from the Native American perspective. Episode 2, entitled, “Tecumseh’s Vision,” was filmed in northern Indiana and cast members included Indiana Native Americans.

In 2006, a casting company contacted Mike Floyd, chief of the Eel River Tribe* (Logansport, IN), and sought his assistance in finding people to be in the film.  “I acted as a liaison for the casting company,” Floyd said, adding, “They sent me a copy of the script and descriptions of what roles needed to be filled.”

Floyd reached out to the Native community in Indiana and surrounding states to solicit photos and resumes for the various parts. Wayne Jackson of the Eel River Tribe was cast as Tecumseh’s grandfather, and several other Eel River members were cast as extras.


In addition to helping with casting, Floyd also helped ensure accuracy by working with the production crew. In the movie Tecumseh’s brother, the Prophet, carried a string of beans and copper balls. “The production crew was having trouble getting a hole through the juniper berries,” Floyd explained, “so I showed them how to soak the berries in water to make them soft enough to run sinew through them.”

Akeime Mitterlehner was the production designer for the film series, and relied heavily on Floyd when it came to the props.  “Working with Mike was so incredibly helpful,” Mitterlehner said. “I relied on his advice as to what was appropriate and I enjoyed working with him. He was very warm and never had an air of superiority about him.”

Mitterlehner stated that on a personal note, the making of this film was very enlightening. “It really expands your world view,” she said, adding, “I learned that the true Native history is not like what is taught in our high school text books.”

“To say working on this project was interesting would be an understatement,” Floyd said.  “But it was interesting to see how things were recorded out of order, like filming the Prophet first as an older man, then as a young man. I’m looking forward to seeing how it’s all put together.”

Adding additional expertise to the film series was George Blanchard, keeper of the language for the Shawnee of Oklahoma, whom Floyd described as a “great guy.”  Due to his schedule, some of the voice-overs done by Blanchard were recorded in other parts of the country since he was unable to be on the set during the entire production.

Floyd said he hopes that the items contributed by himself and the Eel River people, including the Prophet’s beads, the Pipe, lodge items, hides, blankets, bundles and regalia, were an asset to the film and its authenticity.  He concluded by saying, “Having input on this project was an honor.”

The schedule for the series is as follows:

Episode 1 “After the Mayflower” – PBS Premiere April 13th: Episode 2 “Tecumseh’s Vision” –  April 20th: Episode 3 “Trail of Tears” –  April 27th: Episode 4 “Geronimo” – May 4th: Episode 5 “Wounded Knee” – PBS Premier May 11th.


On the net: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/weshallremain/