AMC announced the development of a new series, Dark Winds, based on the Leaphorn & Chee book series by Tony Hillerman. Dark Winds is created and executive produced by Graham Roland. George R. R. Martin, Robert Redford, Chris Eyre (Cheyenne and Arapaho) and star Zahn McClarnon (Hunkpapa Lakota) will executive produce with Roland. 

McClarnon stars with Kiowa Gordon (Hualapai) as Navajo Tribal Police Officers Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, respectively. The story is set in the 1970s Southwest as their search for clues in a grisly double murder case forces them to challenge their own spiritual beliefs and come to terms with the trauma of their pasts. 

“I am honored to be asked to star as the lead in this innovative series for AMC and to Executive produce. To have the support and to be a part of a team which is led by two iconic visionaries as George R.R. Martin and Robert Redford is something to which I’ve always aspired. I believe as Indigenous people we are in a new era of progress in TV and film representation.” – Zahn McClarnon.

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According to Deadline, Dark Winds writers room is staffed entirely by Native American writers led by Roland. “The cast, headlined by McClarnon and Gordon, will feature Native American actors. The series will be filmed largely in and around Native American lands, likely in New Mexico, with the full support and blessing of The Navajo Nation,” said Dan McDermott, president of original programming for AMC Networks and AMC Studios. 

Vince Calandra will serve as executive producer and showrunner with Tiena Elmo and Vince Gerardis round out the executive producing team. Smoke Signals director Eyre will also direct the pilot. 

McClarnon and Gordon have appeared in several Indigenous films. McClarnon was previously in HBO’s Westworld and will co-star in the upcoming MCU series Hawkeye. Gordon was a part of the Twilight wolfpack and most recently in Roswell, New Mexico on The CW. Progress indeed. After speaking with several Indigenous creatives, this Indigenous renaissance is in full effect. And it’s about time!

Dark Winds season one is expected to premiere in 2022 on AMC and AMC+.


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