Press Release

Release Date: April 04, 2023
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

A wide array of First American films and filmmakers were celebrated during the 2023 Holba' Pisachi' “Showing Pictures” Native Film Festival, March 11 at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

Chickasaw Nation Productions’ “Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher” was the headlining film. While the movie has been playing on Netflix since November 2021, this was the first film festival screening, and several cast and crew members attended.

It was cast member Tatanka Means’ (Oglala Lakota, Omaha, Navajo) first time to see the finished film. He plays Rising Wolf in the film, which is based on the life of Chickasaw rancher Montford Johnson.

“I am very pleased and happy the way the film was put together,” Means said. “It is beyond my expectations. I knew it was going to be good, but it turned out better than I could have hoped.”

Means said he was not aware of some of the difficulties First Americans in Indian Territory faced until he worked on the film. His character, a Cheyenne, faces tremendous hardships, including imprisonment, which are based on historical accounts.

“That wasn’t something that I knew about. That’s what I love about doing new films. It’s always educational to me,” he said. “Now, it is something I hold dearly and share with other people. It is amazing the strength they had and resilience and bravery it took to keep going, to stay alive for their family, for the people and to continue on. It is really inspiring.”

Means said it is vital for First Americans to continue to share their story.

“It’s important for us to tell our own stories because we control the narrative. If it was somebody else telling our story or trying to sculpt it in a different way, this is more truthful and real, and it comes from the people, by the people,” he said.

Traveling from London to attend the film festival, Means said First American film festivals serve an important role in sharing the stories of First Americans.

“This is where we get to highlight and celebrate Indigenous filmmakers who are making and creating film all throughout the year. We need this platform to share with the world.”

Means’ most recent film, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” directed by Martin Scorsese and filmed in Oklahoma, is set to be released this year. Means is also cast in Kevin Costner’s new epic western saga, “Horizon.” He also appeared in “Reservation Dogs,” another Oklahoma-based project.

Additional “Montford” cast members James Landry Hébert, Caleb Martin and Rebeckah Boykin attended the film festival, along with content producer Jeannie Barbour (Chickasaw), who led a panel discussion with Means and Hébert. Martin Sensmeier participated by Zoom.

Chickasaw citizen and Ardmore resident Sue Simmons traveled to the film festival to experience the films at the newly renovated Anoli’ Theater, including “Montford” and the documentary “Montford Johnson: An Original Brand.”

“The Montford film is really good. It shows early hardships and why family is so important,” Simmons said. “I learn a lot seeing these movies. They portray lots of history I am not aware of. I also like that it shows that if you are Native American, you’re not just Chickasaw. You’re a brother to the Cheyenne, and all the other tribes. I am glad the movie brings that out,” she said.

Several feature films and documentaries included a question- and-answer session, including “The Wind and the Reckoning,” with acclaimed screenwriter John Fusco and “The Journey of Tiak Hikiya Ohoyo,” with Choctaw filmmaker Mark Williams.

For more information about the Chickasaw Cultural Center, visit or call (580) 622-7130.