Monday, October 5, 2020

David Heska Wanbli Weiden's "Winter Counts"

David Heska Wanbli Weiden, an enrolled member of the Sicangu Lakota nation, is author of the novel Winter Counts. Winter Counts is a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and has been selected as an Amazon Best Book of August, Best of the Month by Apple Books, a September main selection of the Book of the Month Club, and was an Indie Next Great Reads pick for September.

Here Weiden dreamcasts an adaptation of Winter Counts:
My novel, Winter Counts, would be great fun to cast for film or television, and there’s a chance this might happen in the future, although I would have no say in the casting process, of course. Winter Counts is the story of a Native American hired vigilante, Virgil Wounded Horse, who lives on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. Because of an outdated law, Native nations cannot prosecute felony crimes that occur on their own lands, but must instead refer those cases to federal authorities. However, the feds are refusing to prosecute about thirty percent of all cases, which means that the offender is released and can commit more crimes. When this happens, victims’ families often turn to these hired enforcers to get their own justice. My hero Virgil charges one hundred dollars for each bone he breaks and each tooth he knocks out.

Obviously, the role of Virgil would require an actor with a tough persona and presence. One choice would be Jason Momoa, who’s obviously a physically imposing person. But another Native actor that I like quite a bit is Zahn McClarnon, who’s acted in Fargo, Longmire, and Westworld. He has an intensity that I think would suit the role well. Yet another possibility would be the fantastic First Nations actor, Darrell Dennis, who narrated the novel for the audiobook of Winter Counts. His reading of the book demonstrated his acting chops, and I’d love for him to have a role in any production of Winter Counts. If not Virgil, Darrell Dennis would be great for the role of Chef Lack Strongbow, who comes to the reservation and tries to sell his concept of indigenous food, which he calls Indigi-Cultural Decolo-Native cuisine. As for the female lead, Marie Short Bear, there’s a Canadian First Nations actor named Shannon Baker who would be a wonderful fit for that role. I’ve seen a few clips of her work and she is great.

Overall, thinking about actors and directors is great fun, and with any luck, viewers may be able to see Winter Counts on the screen sometime in the future.
Visit David Heska Wanbli Weiden's website.

The Page 69 Test: Winter Counts.

--Marshal Zeringue