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Actor's Indian Heritage Adds Dimension to Roles

Sandi Davis Published: June 15, 1997
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After the ceremony, Sellers returned to Los Angeles and got a call from the executive producer of "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman." They talked, and the part of Cloud Dancing was offered to Sellers.

He immediately began to flesh out the sketchy character written into the "Dr. Quinn" scripts.

"Cloud Dancing was originally called Black Hawk," he said. "They just wanted a representative American Indian, not a character. I came up with Cloud Dancing and became the technical adviser for Native American concepts and thoughts."

His technical adviser role gave him a chance to present American Indians of the past as regular citizens in a town.

"One of the things never presented in movies or TV is an interracial relationship between a white woman and an Indian man," he said. "Indian men treat their mates with kindness."

Sellers said "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" is letting the public get to know an American Indian male as a human, and color plays no part in his character.

This season ended with a possible romance between Cloud Dancing and Dorothy, the town's newspaper publisher.

The pair has traded glances and flirted, but nothing else yet. And Sellers isn't divulging anything.

"I still have to work within the framework of Hollywood," he said. "The show is entertainment, not a documentary."

Even with a busy acting schedule, he makes time for what he thinks is important. He is active in the Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) children's literacy program, and emceed a program at the White House in April.

"I asked if I could get involved with them. Literacy is a key to freedom," he said. "The ability to read stimulates imagination and eliminates fear. I'm hoping RIF will be one of a few platforms I can use to help kids see that reading is fun."

He also was chosen as a Fellow at the Newberry Library Center for the History of the American Indian (Chicago).

Curriculum for secondary and college level courses were developed using his studies on language, societal structures, genes, political structure, spirituality and metaphysics, warrior or soldier societies, kinships and extended families.

Even with all the serious work, Sellers has a sense of humor, too.

He said he had a great time in "Wayne's World II," where he played the "Weird, Naked Indian" who appears with Wayne (Mike Myers) and Garth (Dana Carvey) several times throughout the movie.

He laughs when asked about his very un-Indian name, saying he tells some people his name is Chuck Roast or Luke Warmwater.

When he wants to make a point, he will look a person straight in the eye and solemnly say, "Honest Indian."

"It's a great thing to happen to a poor little Indian boy from reservation Oklahoma," he said. "Honest Indian. I can say that."

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