ITTI̱KANA ACHUKMA (A Good Friendship)
Native American representation in television and film has a long, not-so-sterling history, but things seem to be changing for the better in recent years. Studios have shown interest in reversing some of the damaging and inaccurate stereotypes Native Americans have faced on the big screen. Groundbreaking and award-winning shows like Reservation Dogs have blazed a trail for Indigenous inclusion in storytelling, cultural representation, casting, costume design, and much more.
Marvel Studios' new series, Echo, is an exciting project where Native representation, specifically Choctaw representation, has been placed squarely at the forefront of creative development. From the beginning, experts in Choctaw history, culture, and language were included in conversations about how Choctaw people would be portrayed. This significant step shows Marvel Studios' desire to be part of the future of Native American representation in Hollywood, and the Choctaw Nation is proud to partner with the studio on this project.
Chief Gary Batton
Chief Gary Batton reflects on the significance of the Choctaw Nation's partnership with Marvel Studios and the mutual desire to showcase Choctaw culture in a respectful and meaningful way.
Seth Fairchild, Executive Director of Cultural Services, shares the importance of having community input to help represent the Choctaw origin story and stickball accurately.
Stacy Shepherd, Executive Director of Member Services, discusses the use of Choctaw language and iconography throughout the series.
Choctaw Nation consultants and artist and writer Steven Paul Judd pose on set during the first day of filming.
Following a demonstration of the Choctaw Walk Dance, the cast, crew, and consultants come together to commemorate the first day of filming.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, CULTURE!
One of the many ways Marvel Studios honored Chahta culture in Echo is through the use of symbols, icons, and stories that are important to our people. As the story progresses, look for Choctaw diamonds, swirls, artwork, and our seal in costumes and set dressings throughout each episode.
How many Choctaw symbols can you spot?
The Chahta origin story plays a big part at the beginning of Echo. Our ancestors emerged from Nanih Waiya, the Mother Mound, in what is now Mississippi. The imagery of the clay people comes from this story.
Read our origin story and learn more about our earliest ancestors.
The Biskinik is a special friend to the Chahta people. This little woodpecker was blessed by the Creator to live near our ancestors and warn them of danger by tapping out messages on trees. Today, our tribal newspaper bears its name in honor of the "little Choctaw news bird."
Learn more about the Biskinik paper.
Ishtaboli, or stickball, is an ancient game played by several Native American tribes. Originally, it helped our ancestors settle disputes and avoid war. Today, the game is played competitively and in exhibitions across the Choctaw Nation Reservation and beyond.
Learn more about this exciting and fast-paced game.
Traditional Choctaw dress incorporates some of our most important iconography. The diamond pattern represents the diamondback rattlesnake, who protected our ancestors' crops. These snakes are not aggressive, but they stand ready to attack if provoked, traits that are also present in the Chahta people.
Learn more about the symbols we use in our traditional regalia.
One of the most important ways the Choctaw Nation exercises its sovereignty is through its language. For generations, Choctaw people were discouraged or outright forbidden to speak their language, and as fluent speakers passed away without handing it down to younger generations, it nearly died out.
The Choctaw Language is going through a period of revitalization, however. In recent years, the Chahta Anumpa Aiikhvna (Choctaw School of Language) has ramped up efforts to increase the number of speakers through the incorporation of technology and a wide variety of learning options.
At each regular meeting, the Tribal Council honors a Choctaw First Language Speaker of the Month. These culture keepers hold a cherished place in our tribe.
Having Echo dubbed in Choctaw is an especially significant milestone for the tribe. Teresa Billy and other language experts worked diligently with Marvel Studios to ensure the highest level of accuracy in the translation process.
Teresa Billy is the Assistant Director of the Chahta Anumpa Aiikhvna, or the Choctaw School of Language. Teresa is a first language Choctaw speaker, and her main goal is to protect the identity of the Choctaw people by preserving their language. According to her, "It is important for each of us, as well as for our future generations, to connect us to our mother tongue, which relates us to our rich history, culture and language."
Teresa's work with Marvel Studios' translators allowed the show to be subtitled in Choctaw, a first for our tribe. Not only can tribal members see the language of their ancestors on a major television series, but it will help them realize how important it is to learn their language and use it in their everyday lives.
Teresa's husband, Curtis Billy, also worked on the Echo project, providing valuable historical information about the game of stickball. Unfortunately, Curtis passed away before he could see his contributions on the big screen, but we are so grateful for his involvement.
This Is Choctaw
Go behind the scenes to see how working closely with Choctaw Nation helped bring Marvel Studios' #Echo to life.
Official Trailer (Choctaw Subbed)
Hollywood Comes to the Choctaw Nation
Marvel Studios screened the first two episodes of the upcoming series Echo during Choctaw Nation's annual powwow at The District Theater on November 3, 2023.
The episodes were presented by director Sydney Freeland, who was joined by Seth Fairchild, Executive Director of Cultural Services for Choctaw Nation, for a Q&A conversation after the screening.
Who is ECHO?
Alaqua Cox grew up on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. Prior to being cast in the role of Maya Lopez/Echo, she did not have acting experience outside of a high school play.
Like her character, Cox is deaf and a partial amputee, making her one of the first actresses with a disability to play a leading role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). She first appeared as Maya Lopez/Echo in the MCU's 2021 series Hawkeye.