1923’s Jennifer Ehle And Aminah Nieves On The Abusive Schools In The Yellowstone Prequel [Exclusive Interview]

It hasn’t been specifically stated yet, but the character of Teonna Rainwater is very likely related to the “Yellowstone” character Chief Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) from the fictional Broken Rock Indian Reservation. The school where Teonna is forced to study brings to mind last year’s discovery of mass graves at a school for indigenous children in Canada. It’s a heartbreaking story and one that has never been forgotten by the people affected. I asked Nieves about her research for the role involving the school in the show, and she said mistreatment is very much a part of her history:

“On my end, it just is, you know? It’s been talked about in my family for a very long time because we have to know about it. It’s not something that any of my people didn’t experience. It very much lives within me, still, in my wounds and my family’s wounds, and in my friends. It still lives within us all, and parts of what was happening then is still present into now.

But I spoke with a lot of elders still. We had [consultants] Mo [Brings Plenty], and Birdie [Real Bird] on set, which was incredible, and [I] just pray to Spirit that we’re doing a really good job and honoring everyone.”

The scenes in the school in the first episode are difficult to watch, but incredibly important to understand and learn from. In the trailer, we see a potential rescue of Teonna, though how it will all play out remains a mystery.

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