The Walking Dead franchise on AMC is a guilty pleasure of mine. I love watching characters trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world filled with human flesh-eating walkers that seem to be in a constant need of severe hunger and fellow walker companionship.
Go get 'em Rick! Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Gino Crognale as Walker - The Walking Dead Season 7, Episode 10 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
But what some of my gracious readers may not know is that the Walking Dead franchise — which includes The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead as well as the after program the Talking Dead, a talk show that discusses the walker universe on an episode by episode basis — has a considerable Native connection.
Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd - Talking Dead Season 6, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Jordin Althaus/AMC
This is in a large part due to an open-minded production team and the efforts of The Walking Dead executive producer, Gale Anne Hurd.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
I talked with Gale Anne Hurd about Zombies, Native characters (like Michael Greyeyes) in the franchise and more. AMC is also letting me use a bunch of cool photos I will enclose with this week’s column.
In case you didn’t know, Gale is a TITAN in the television and film world who has produced such massive blockbusters / box-office hits—including The Terminator, Aliens, The Incredible Hulk and of course the incredibly popular TV series, The Walking Dead.
But that is not all, Gale Anne Hurd is currently basking in the success of her latest documentary film project, Mankiller, based on the life of Wilma Mankiller, which was directed by Valerie Red-Horse Mohl.
James Schnepf/Courtesy Wilma Mankiller Foundation/Mankiller Documentary
Mankiller has screened at a number of prestigious film festivals around the world bringing in a slew of awards.
Check out my previous story:
Fear The Walking Dead
Last year, I had a veritable brain eruption when I discovered the amazingly talented Michael Greyeyes was going to be playing the first ever Native ZOMBIE KILLER! I was beside myself with an explosive sense of excitement and true delirium.
I interviewed Michael Greyeyes and even had him on my weekly radio program Native Trailblazers.
(Don't look in that towel, trust me) Kim Dickens as Madison Clark, Michael Greyeyes as Qaletaqa Walker - Fear the Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 8 - Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC
But this was the kicker, not only was Michael Greyeyes going to play a character - he WAS PART OF A NATIVE COMMUNITY! Phew! I don’t mean to keep yelling but I was absolutely going berserk with excitement! Fear The Walking Dead was tackling issues of Native people during a Zombie Apocalypse on what they named the Blackhat Reservation. They were a community, there were Native elders, kids and more. I literally cried with excitement. During several interviews with Michael Greyeyes, we literally screamed with excitement about his role as Qaletaqa Walker.
Michael Greyeyes as Qaletaqa Walker - Fear the Walking Dead Season 3, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC
And all of my excitement about feeling recognized, regarded, acknowledged and respected was in a huge part thanks to Gale Anne Hurd.
I spoke to Gale and asked her why she did so much that made me feel so grateful.
Gale Anne Hurd sent me a personal email—and yes as a matter of fact I get goosebumps of appreciation that I get to correspond with a person I respect greatly— and this is what she said.
“My passion for Native issues and indigenous storytelling was inspired by my childhood experience growing up in the Palm Springs desert area, home to the Agua Caliente band of the Cahuilla tribe. I would spend hours hiking or horseback riding in the Tahquitz, Andreas and Murray canyons sacred to the Agua Caliente, and learned desert botany from a wonderful public school teacher. To this day, the tribe is largest single land owner in Palm Springs.”
“It was always a shock to me how few of my friends in later years knew next to nothing about the genocide (especially in California) of Indian peoples, but just as importantly, aren’t aware of the remarkable successes in Indian Country. All of these stories deserve to be told.”
This week’s #NativeNerd column is dedicated to Gale Anne Hurd. A woman who has served to give a voice to so many.
Thank you Gale. I appreciate you. And so does Indian Country.
Send her a note of thanks. Her Twitter handle is @GunnerGale.
Follow fellow Native Nerd, Vincent Schilling associate editor for Indian Country Today at @VinceSchilling - Make sure to use the Hashtag #NativeNerd
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