What is Dark Winds about?

Dark Winds -- COurtesy of AMC
Dark Winds -- COurtesy of AMC /

Darks Winds is based on the Leaphorn and Chee book series by Tony Hillerman. The series starts off in 1971 in a remote area in the Navajo Nation in Arizona around Monument Valley. The story follows officers Joe Leaphorn of the Tribal Police and Jim Chee. Joe is a veteran in the police force, a lieutenant from Kayenta. Chee is an FBI agent who in time becomes Leaphorn’s deputy officer.

Chee is only disguised as a new officer. He is straight out of Berkeley and has connections. At the very start, Leaphorn is investigating the murder of Anna Atcitty, a young teenager who was murdered in a motel room.

Bernadette Manuelito is the other remaining officer of Dark Winds. This character is a Navajo tribal Sergeant who works intimately with Leaphorn. Very intelligent and strong-willed, hard-working, and tough as nails. She is the third wheel to Chee and Leaphorn. A woman who is connected to her past and the rituals of her tribe. She speaks the Dine language common among the Navajo Nation.

Bernadette is a character to watch out for. She is a strong female force in a male-driven show and epitomizes what indigenous women go through. Disrespected by men emotionally and physically. Constant belittling by male counterparts. It has given her a hard exterior but she is an outstanding role model to all women and young girls and should be talked about more in the media.

The plot of season one is to battle their own beliefs as Chee and Leaphorn work together to try and solve a double murder case. They must come face to face with their own pasts and spiritual beliefs. That is a life Chee left a long time ago but now he must face the life he left behind for a better future for his people.

The most interesting thing about Dark Winds is the huge Native American presence. The show consists of a 95 percent Native American cast. Something that is extremely rare in television today. Zahn McLarnon who plays Joe Leaphorn is a Denver native and comes for the Lakota Tribe. This show is also made by Native American writers. As many Western’s as there are today this show is a trailblazer and also for a sense of hope and recognition for Native Americans to have a voice.

We are starting to live in a day and age where all cultures are being recognized. So it only makes sense that Native Americans would get their due respect. Before we embark on a deeper dive into this show let’s take a look to recognize the cast of Dark Winds.

  • Zahn McClarnon as Joe Leaphorn
  • Kiowa Gordon as Jim Chee
  • Jessica Matten as Bernadette Manuelito
  • Rainn Wilson as Dan DeMarco
  • Noah Emmerich as Leland Whitover
  • Eugene Brave Rock as Frank Nakai
  • Elva Guerra as Sally Growing Thunder
  • Deanna Taushi Allison as Emma Leaphorn
  • Jeremiah Bitsui as Benjamin Tso
  • Jonathan Adams as Lester McGrinnis
  • Amelia Rico as Ada
  • Ryan Begay as Guy Atcitty
  • Rob Tepper as Pete Samuels

The series follows these two crimes but the first one in particular has brought the FBI in due to the investigation of a bank robbery in New Mexico. Chee and Leaphorn battle their own demons of the past, the present day, and what their future might bring. Nothing is as it seems. Dark Winds season 2 is set to premiere on July 30.

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