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‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Tantoo Cardinal: ‘Older Women Have a Lot Left to Give’

‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ Tantoo Cardinal: ‘Older Women Have a Lot Left to Give’ featured image
DARRELL REDLEAF

At 73-years-old, Tantoo Cardinal is one of the most respected and beloved indigenous actresses in Hollywood. Aside from Martin Scorsese’s latest film, Killers of the Flower Moon, she has appeared in more than 120 film and television projects throughout her four-decade career, including Dances With Wolves, Legends of the Fall, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and most recently, Marvel’s Echo.

“When I started out, I could have told myself that I was beautiful, but I didn’t believe it. Then there was a point in my 50s, when I looked back and just cried because I realized, ‘Oh my God, I was beautiful.’ I had no idea when people would tell me so. I just never took it to heart that you are beautiful just as you are. I’m willing to accept it now, and it’s a 70-year-old beauty. It’s not a 20-year-old or even a 50-year-old. It’s a 70-year-old. So, you know, it’s about time that I accepted it. I have accepted this particular beauty in both my life and my work.

On a regular daily basis, I feel most beautiful when I’ve done the right things for myself, and for my body. When my hair is clean, or in terms of exercise, I’ve done my stretches and I feel my body being limber and flexible. That’s when I feel the best. When I am headed to a public event, then I feel best when I’ve had my glam people, whom I trust, around me and getting me ready to go.

Being in films that represent so much is kind of my path—telling those stories that haven’t been told or haven’t been told properly. This movie was kind of a shock, I suppose, for a lot of people to realize that this is a part of our collective history. Even though a lot of people know that Indigenous people have been hard done by America in the past, there are still some who think that we got what we deserved.

Ultimately, I’m hoping that it will open more funding for our storytellers to be able to tell things properly. Movies like Killers of the Flower Moon are helpful for generating curiosity and new funding opportunities that we can use to tell authentic stories that can be shared with generations to come. It’s been a testament to the preservation of creation, which is powerful and its own kind of beauty.

I think it’s getting better. I know that the dandelion will continue to grow out through the pavement, and I trust that there’s going to be work for me.

There are all kinds of amazing women out there who are still working, and it shows a wisdom seeping through the industry—that older women have a lot left to give.

In the indigenous world, the older we get, the more we have to offer. The mothers and grandmothers hold great power, honor, respect, service and wisdom—it’s built right into our culture.

In the indigenous world, the older we get, the more we have to offer. The mothers and grandmothers hold great power, honor, respect, service and wisdom—it’s built right into our culture. It’s just this business that has to decide to catch up!

Getting older means I don’t have to be in as many places. I’ve done a certain amount of work, and my work speaks for itself; I’m not even online! Another big thing about aging is that many things don’t bother you the same way they used to; I like that.”

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