Yellowstone Star Mo Brings Plenty Talks Importance Of Serving As American Indian Affairs Coordinator For Taylor Sheridan's Westerns

Mo Brings Plenty standing on Kayce's porch in Yellowstone
(Image credit: Paramount Network)

For all the reasons that Yellowstone still sticks out as an episodic drama, even in the midst of an overstuffed TV-scape, one that stands to be the most meaningful is the neo-western’s inclusion of indigenous culture and characters. The Broken Rock Tribe serves as one of the core groups being overshadowed by the Dutton family, as partially headed up by star Moses Brings Plenty, whose stoic Mo is arguably the show’s most morally grounded character. The actor also boasts an important role behind the scenes as well, serving as the American Indian Affairs Coordinator for both Yellowstone and its spinoff 1923, which recently wrapped its first season on Paramount+ with a brutal, if somehow still hopeful, temp conclusion for Aminah Nieves’ Teonna Rainwater until the already confirmed second season arrives.

Yellowstone co-creator Taylor Sheridan definitely doesn’t sugarcoat the harsh realities faced by native communities, with Thomas Rainwater, Mo, and others having to fight tooth and nail just to gain an inch. But the writer/director has shined a light on a far more directly violent and damaging piece of history through Teonna’s deadly horror movie arc tied to the indoctrination-geared boarding school where seemingly everyone in charge gets off on physical abuse. The storyline in full is easily more disturbing than anything in the flagship series, made all the more so by its basis in reality, with Nieves humbly telling CinemaBlend that she initially didn’t think it was within her to represent her family and culture through Teonna’s story. It’s that kind of real-world reflection that plays into Moses Brings Plenty’s key position as American Indian Affairs Coordinator. 

Speaking with EW as tied to 1923’s finale, the Oglala Lakota actor described his role by saying:

In that role what it means is we have to make sure that we're accurate as far as the time period that we're in, and on a cultural level what we can show and yet still keep the protection over the original ceremonies. And when it comes to language, to make sure that we have the proper fluent speakers of the language. I just try to gain support from the tribes that we're representing and try to always keep in mind that Indian country has a voice as well.

It's a well-worded synopsis for an entertainment role that sadly isn't as prevalent as it could or should be, though well-earned strides have been made in recent years to bring more Indigenous creators and performers into TV and streaming productions. As a horror fan, 2022's representation-heavy Predator offshoot Prey definitely sparked my curiosity for a similar genre-geared spinoff to happen within the Yellowstone-verse, though I never would have expected 1923 to get as close as it has to delivering on that.

Moses Brings Plenty spoke to the harsh treatment that he personally suffered in his own past, sharing that he focused on using those experiences to inform his future in ways that were quite different from how his peers handled things. In that respect, he spoke very supportively of his role in maintaining authenticity within Taylor Sheridan's storytelling. The actor also shared his thoughts on 1923 digging into the topic of boarding schools for Native American children, and so soon after reports from the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative brought to light the existence of more than 400 schools operating throughout the U.S. between 1819 and 1969. Here's how he put it:

What was most important to me was to support the storyline that [1923 creator] Taylor had written. Taylor is so gifted, and he has the ability to share things that some people won't even think about. So for me, it was just to get the message out in a good way and with accuracy. . . . It is very enlightening to know that we are finally gaining some traction and support. We have to be able to find a way to allow people to heal so that way we can begin to figure out our [current] situations and our circumstances — and most importantly, find a space to be able to work together. We are all in this together. We need to have a place to allow our children to flourish, side by side.

For as dark and tragic as Teonna's storyline is throughout Season 1, it appears as if there may be some brighter moments going into the second season. Without dipping into spoiler territory too much, I'll just say that it involves a new cast member who just so happens to be Mo Brings Plenty's nephew, actor Cole Brings Plenty. The proud uncle did tease that the character Pete is part of a "very, very strong storyline" with Teonna, so one can only hope that means he'll get to survive for the majority of the episodes, if not all of them.

The entire first season of 1923 is available to stream with a Paramount+ subscription, with Yellowstone returning to Paramount Network at a later point in 2023, though it's still unclear how things will shake out after all the rumored messiness with Kevin Costner

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.