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Emerging Indigenous screenwriters revealed on new list

IllumiNative is one of three organizations that helped to compile this year’s list.

Three organizations – IllumiNative, The Black List and the Sundance Institute – released the names of eight projects May 17 that made its 2022 version of the “Indigenous List.” The list is comprised of Indigenous screenwriters who have been identified as emerging talents in the film and television industries. It’s the second time the list has been compiled – the first was in 2020.

Organizers said the project was created to provide a platform for Indigenous writers to showcase their scripts, create opportunities, and support the development of the “next generation of screenwriters.” Organizers said there has been a recent rise in demand for Native created and led stories in the industry, citing the TV shows “Rutherford Falls” and “Reservation Dogs” and the films “Wild Indian” and “Night Raiders.”

Those who made this year’s list will have the chance to meet with four Natives in the industry who have connections to major studios, including Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache), Michael Greyeyes (Nêhiyaw-Plains Cree), Sierra Teller Ornelas (Navajo) and Sterlin Harjo (Seminole Creek/Muskogee Creek).

“The Indigenous List provides an intimate look at the depth of talent and power of Native creatives in the entertainment industry,” Crystal Echo Hawk, founder and executive director of IllumiNative, said in a news release. “These Indigenous writers are leading the way and showing the power of Native authored stories.”

Those on the 2022 list, including their script titles, are Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire (Kanien’kehá:ka), “How to Deal with Systemic Racism in the Afterlife”; Alex Nystrom (Ojibwe), “Between”; Bryson Chun (Kanaka Maoli) and Tara Aquino (Kanaka Maoli), “Don’t Freak”; Maya Rose Dittloff (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara (MHA Nation)/ Amskapi Pijkuni), “Sweetness of the Blood”; W.A.W. Parker (Northern Cheyenne), “The Baron”; Brian Bahe (Tohono O’odham), “Decolonize”; Neil Tinkham (Chamorro), “The Taotaomona”; and Kathryn Machi (Cherokee), “June Rose.”

IllumiNative is a Native woman-led racial and social justice organization. More is at The Black List is an annual survey of Hollywood executives’ favorite unproduced screenplays. More is at The Sundance Institute was founded in 1981 by Robert Redford and is known for its film festival, film laboratories, grant programs and mentorship programs. More is at