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Martin Sensmeier performs leading role in ‘Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher’

Release Date: November 12, 2021

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

First American film star Martin Sensmeier portrays the titular character in a new production from Chickasaw Nation Productions inspired by the life of historic Chickasaw rancher Montford Johnson.

“Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher” portrays the great hardships and tragedy Johnson and those close to him overcame to establish a vast ranching empire along the famous cattle highway of the American West, the Chisholm Trail.

Sensmeier is a rising star, an actor and producer whom moviegoers may recognize as Red Harvest from “The Magnificent Seven,” where he performed alongside Denzel Washington. “Yellowstone,” “Wind River,” “Salem” and “Westworld” are also among his recent performances.

Raised in the Tlingit Coastal Community in Alaska, Sensmeier grew up learning and participating in the traditions of his tribes, the Tlingit and Koyukon-Athabascan. He is also an ambassador for The Native Wellness Institute and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Johnson’s story is a true Western epic, spanning from his birth in 1843, through the tumultuous years of the Civil War and its aftermath, and the Land Rush of 1889.

Inspired by recounts of Johnson's life and the book “The Chickasaw Rancher,” this story tells of Johnson’s time among settlers, cowboys, tribes, military and bandits.

Armed with determination and dreams of a better life, he had the grit and courage needed to tame what seemed an infinite wilderness, while always maintaining respect for the First Americans who lived there.

While working on the film “Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher,” Sensmeier said he sees film as a good way to continue the storytelling tradition, and preserve and promote First American culture.

“Our culture is never static,” Sensmeier said. “Our technology evolves, our culture evolves, so it is great to see that, with the availability of resources, storytelling is evolving. The Chickasaw Nation is doing a great job, an amazing job of following the tradition of telling stories and telling their own stories. I think that is really special.”

Many tribes are represented within the cast of the movie. Tatanka Means, who plays Rising Wolf, is an award-winning First American actor who represents the Oglala Lakota, Omaha and Navajo tribes. Casey Casey Camp-Horinek portrays Granny Vicey and is a Ponca tribal member. Sonia Hoffman is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes and is cast as Asha, Rising Wolf’s wife. Rebeckah Boykin, a Choctaw model and actress, portrays Johnson’s sister, Adelaide. Eddie Easterling, a Chickasaw citizen, plays Jesse Chisholm.

Other cast members include Dermot Mulroney, Tommy Flanagan, Grace Montie, James Landry Hébert, Denim Richards, Mackenzie Astin, Caleb Martin, Danny Tracey, Cat Merritt, Richard Whitman, Zack Morris, Randy Mendez-Kestler, Bella Muncy and Callan Wilson.

“Montford: The Chickasaw Rancher” was directed by Nathan Frankowski and produced by Paul Sirmons.

Most of the film was captured on Oklahoma soil during the spring and summer. Davis, Reagan and Fort Gibson were key filming locations.

It is the third feature film produced by the Chickasaw Nation, joining “Te Ata” and “Pearl” in its effort to tell the story of the Chickasaw people.

The film is now available to stream on Netflix.