The Minishonka Tribe is suing the Rutherford Falls founding family! In “Terry Thomas,” Nathan (Ed Helms) strikes back, but can he go toe to toe with Terry (Michael Greyeyes). NPR reporter Josh Carter (Dustin Milligan) is following this story closely. 

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In 1981, young Terry Thomas (Darius Eteeyan) set up an old fashioned lemonade stand in front of a bakery in town. The bakery owner even gave him day-old brownies to sell for 20% of the profit. Terry’s mom was impressed by how business savvy her son was. Terry made enough money for his mom to buy real Lucky Charms and real milk … not the powered kind. 

In the present, Terry, his wife Renee (Kimberly Guerrero) and their kids Jimmy (Cha-tah Ellem) and Maya (Kiawentiio) live in a nice home and have nice clothes and other things around the house. Terry often wears Maya’s beadwork to the casino. He suggests that Maya try to sell her beadwork. Maya is just happy beading with her grandmother and giving her work to her friends for free. 

After hearing about the lawsuit, Reagan (Jana Schmieding) confronts Terry when he gets to work. She demands to know what he’s up to but she’s too busy scolding him to hear his reasons. They are interrupted when Reagan’s cousin Jess (Devery Jacobs) shows up for work.  Jess is filling in for Terry’s assistant, who left to pursue a relationship with a man she met on While Reagan is grateful to Terry for giving her cousin a job, she sees right through Terry. But he’s not worried about Reagan.

Josh arrives to interview Terry, but Terry tells Jess to make him wait. In the meantime, Jess tells Terry all about Josh and Reagan. I’m pretty sure the whole nation knows. Terry gives Jess a bunch of instructions, but she didn’t write anything down. She’s kind of a ditz. 

When Josh comes in, he starts off the interview asking Terry about his background. He learns that Terry used to be in a rock band called Rage Fuel. Now he’s a family man. When Josh mentions the lawsuit, Terry says he’s not the one suing the Rutherfords, the nation is. He’s just the face. This contradicts something Terry said in another article. He said the tribe is hesitant to use the courts but he’s not. Jess interrupts with news that Nathan and Reagan are outside.

The lawsuit is based on the Founding Document that states the Rutherford family would provide goods of appreciation from the date of the town’s founding in perpetuity. Nathan knows that but says the goods of appreciation were just ceremonial. Not according to what Nathan said at the Founder’s Day celebration. Nathan told the whole town that the document was legally binding. Oops! After Nathan leaves, Terry tells Jess not to interrupt them again. Josh is a better reporter than he thought. He doesn’t want Nathan messing anything up for him. Terry thinks about that for a minute. He then tells Jess to let Nathan in next time.

Josh questions how the Minishonka values are expressed by the casino. The casino represents capitalism. Terry admits that some compromises have been made. Before he can elaborate, his alarm goes off. He has to leave to watch his son play lacrosse. Terry sees this as an opportunity to end the interview, but Josh is willing to wait for him to return.

The lacrosse game is in progress when Terry gets there. Terry wastes no time annoying Maya about selling her beadwork. While Renee yells at the referee, she also tells Terry to give Maya some space. Maya and Jimmy are learning about their cultural ways and that should be enough. Terry is disappointed though. He calls Jimmy Captain Minishonka and Maya a dud. He doesn’t like that she gives her beadwork away for free. Renee doesn’t really offer any solutions. She reminds him that he married a former Miss Indian World and that he’s cooler than Billy Jack.

After the game, Terry gives Renee extra money for food and tells Jimmy to buy his friend a new lacrosse stick. He asks Maya to ride home with him. Before they leave, Terry presents a proposition to Maya. He tells her to make 20 pieces of jewelry. She can keep five to do whatever she wants with and he will sell the other 15. They can use the money to start a business or they can put two thirds of the profits into her college fund and the other third she can keep. Maya declines and decides to make 20 pieces and keep them all. 

Terry gets frustrated and cuts off her allowance. He also tries to forbid Maya from beading with her grandmother, but quickly changes his mind. Maya doesn’t understand why her dad is so obsessed with money. He says it comes down to the fact that everything costs money. Maya suggests that she quit school and go work in a sweatshop if money is so important. Terry laughs because Maya could never keep up with those kids. 

Nathan tries to pay up his family debt to Terry on Rutherford Falls

Rutherford Falls Episode 4 – Terry Thomas – Pictured: Ed Helms as Nathan and Michael Greyeyes as Terry – (Colleen Hayes/Peacock)

Terry returns to his office and the interview with Josh when Nathan returns. This time he brings what was promised: three bags of corn and a fur pelt for every year since the founding of the town. Bobby (Jesse Leigh) rolls in a cart of popcorn and fur coats. Terry doesn’t accept the offer. While corn and fur had a significant value at the time of the agreement, that value is far greater. The value also comes with interest compounded over hundreds of years. The total amounts to roughly $350 million. 

Nathan gets frustrated and says it’s time to bring out the big guns.  He is a on the board of Rutherford Inc. One phone call and their lawyers will be in Rutherford Falls to squash Terry like a bug. Terry thanks Nathan for the warning and says he will prepare accordingly. 

Terry returns to the interview and Josh warns him that court cases are rarely ruled in the tribes’ favor. Then he asks if Terry thinks the concept of capitalism and tribal values are conflicting. Terry explains that American capitalism only serves the individual. Whereas tribal capitalism serves the entire community. They spread the wealth throughout the community instead of letting one person have it all. 

Josh then asks if Terry feels like he’s selling out his culture by chasing the all mighty dollar. Terry flashes back to 1981. The first day he sold all of the brownies for the baker, the baker only gave him $2 when he should have given $6. Terry didn’t think it was fair, but the baker explained that he charged Terry for overhead such as rent, insurance, and ingredients. The baker even said he should charge Terry for setting up on his property. He told Terry not to take it personally. Everything is a business. 

Terry turns off the recorder. He tells Josh that he appreciates that he read the entire Wikipedia entry for the Minishonka Tribe. But he will never grasp a traditional Minishonka way of life. Josh comes from a society that values the self over the whole. That’s why he’s focusing on a purity test instead of what’s really going on.

Terry explains the concept of the seven generations. “It’s a practice to ensure that the Earth and our language and our people will not only exist but thrive seven generations from now, that the decisions we make today will have an impact long after we’re gone.” Everything Terry does is to ensure the success of the Minishonka Nation. 

Terry learned about power at a young age. While Terry talks, we see a flashback to 1981. Terry says the powerful treat those without power however they want. He wants to ensure his tribe has a successful life and in order to do that, it takes power. Power in the form of money. Young Terry took the money he earned and bought his own brownie mix. The next day, he set up his lemonade and brownie stand in a new location. 

Terry says the casino is a means to an end, like fur trading was years ago. And after he’s gone, another Minishonka person will figure out how to master the next endeavor. That’s what they do. They do whatever they have to. Terry had to learn out of necessity how to play this game. It’s not a feel-good story, but Terry won’t rest until the Minishonka get every single thing back that was taken.

Terry turns the recorder back on and thanks Josh for a wonderful interview. He leads him to the door and says Jess has photos for the interview. He is partial to the photo of him and Michelle Obama. Later, Terry meets with the tribal council and plays them a recording of Nathan saying he is a member of the Rutherford Inc board. He asks their permission to add Rutherford Inc to the lawsuit and they agree.

After their meeting, a council member complements Terry’s medallion. He mentions that Maya made it. The council member commends Terry for raising his children right. On his way home, Terry stops at the bead store for Maya. When he checks out, he sees a CD with his picture on the cover. It’s his old band Rage Fuel. the clerk asks if he wants to buy it, but Terry puts the CD back. He says he has everything he needs. 

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You can stream episodes of Rutherford Falls on Peacock.



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