Wild Indian is a 2021 American thriller film which is directed and written by Lyle Mitchell Corbine. The film was released on September 3, 2021, after its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival on January 30, 2021. Wild Indian focuses on two Ojibwe men who try to get over their past.
The ratings for the film differ from platform to platform. The Sundance Institute also supported the film through the Writers and Directors lab. Wild Indian is currently available on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.
The film stars Michael Greyeyes as Makwa (“Michael Peterson”), Chaske Spencer as Teddy, Jesse Eisenberg as Jerry, Kate Bosworth as Greta Peterson, Jenna Leigh Green as Ivy, Lisa Gromarty as Cammy, Scott Haze as Father Daniels, and Joel Michaely as Jonathan.
The Cast of Wild Indian
The lead actor Michael Greyeyes was also nominated for the Gotham Independent Film Award (2021) for Outstanding Performance in a New Series, and the film received positive reviews. Talking about the film, Director Lyle Mitchell Corbine said that as an Ojibwe man from Wisconsin, he wanted to represent the stories of Native Americans from the region.
The film also depicts how someone’s actions can live with them forever. The film got nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards. Vertical Entertainment later purchased the rights to the film and released it in North America.
Wild Indian 2021 Ending Explained
Wild Indian starts with a native American who appears to have smallpox, hunting in the woods. The scene shifts to 1988 Wisconsin, showing a young boy Makwa, who has abusive parents, and kids bully him at school. In the middle of all this, he has only one friend, his cousin Teddo.
Makwa has a crush on a girl from his school, who most apparently likes James, another boy at school. It makes him envious of him.
One day Teddo takes his father’s rifle and goes shooting with Makwa. After going back home, his father once again beats him, taking him on edge, and he decides to kill his father. He takes a knife and goes to his father’s room to kill him but is disturbed by his mother, who is unaware of the situation.
The next day Makwa once again goes shooting with Teddo. He was still enraged with his father’s abuse and, with his rage, pointed the gun toward Teddo to shoot him. Getting back to consciousness, he lowers the gun but sees James walking by the woods. He slowly aims the rifle at him and shoots him in the head.
Teddo is terrified and starts to run and hide for his life. However, Makwa convinces him to keep it a secret and not to tell anyone, as it would cause problems for both of them. They go back to their lives, where Makwa is still bullied in school and abused by his father.
Makwa Becomes Michael Peterson
The movie fast-forwards to 2019 and shows adult Makwa, who has changed his name to Michael Peterson. He has a wife, Greta, and a son, Francis. It seems like he has left his past life behind and has started anew in a new city. Greta informs him about her pregnancy, and he says that he is happy about it.
While Makwa made a good life for him, Teddo in Wisconsin has been in and out of prison for 30 years due to his crimes related to drugs and physical assaults. After getting out of prison, he moves in with his sister. He asks his sister about Makwa, and she tells him that he moved to one of the coasts and never returned.
He retrieves some money and a gun and goes to meet Lisa, James’ mother, and tells her everything that happened with James. He travels to California and Vista Makwa. Makwa is happy to see him and brings him into the apartment, but Teddo pulls out the fun and tells him that he confessed everything to Lisa. Then he shoots him in the arm and puts the gun on the kitchen counter. Make picks up the gun and shoots him several times.
Once the police arrive, he claims that it was self-defense and his lawyer also confirms that he will get away with it easily, but he may have to face the charges in Wisconsin. He goes to meet Lisa and tells her to drop the charges, but she refuses.
Makwa Escapes Wisconsin For Real
Upon being asked where he was on the day of James’ death, he says he doesn’t remember as it was years ago. He was released from the case and saw Cammy on his way out. He takes out a bullet shell from his pocket and drops it before leaving Wisconsin.
Make comes back to California and gets promoted. He comes back and shows his wounded arm to Greta. He later goes alone to the beach and looks at the waves. The scene cuts back to the native American with smallpox, who returned from his hunt. The last scene shows Makwa crying on the beach.
The film’s ending left many questioning what really happened at the end and how it fits with the whole story. The film is based in Wisconsin and on the life of two Ojibwe men whose lives take different turns after an incident.
Lyle Mitchell Corbine, who is from Wisconsin and grew up in the Ojibwe community, said that he wanted to make a film based on the world he knew, a world of American Indian Country.
He said that film was relatable for Native Americans, and upon watching it, they were able to relate to it as they all knew someone who was like Makwa.
Describing the man in the woods, he said the stories he heard from his tribe were the inspiration for it. The stories included how a man would go live into the woods when he catches a sickness so that he doesn’t infect others in the tribe and his family. The man comes back after he recovers.
The scene with the tribal native American shows him wandering into the woods and his wife dying at his house. He finally returns home at the end of the film and never comes back if he doesn’t get better.
The ending of the film could be explained through those two scenes of the Ojibwe man. Makwa, who might have always wanted to leave Wisconsin due to the abuse and bullying, may have decided to go out and live a new life. However, once he killed James, it carved a mark inside him like a sickness. After which, he went to California and started a new life but was still carrying the sickness with him in the form of the bullet shell that he left in Wisconsin at the end.
It was hidden inside him until he saw Teddo again. Unable to hold it anymore, he takes it all out on Teddo and kills him there. Maybe this was the moment that served as a cure for him, making sure no one knew what he did 30 years ago.
After which, he goes back to Wisconsin and proves it as well. He leaves the shell there, in the end, finishing it forever, and goes back to his life in California. However, the ending shows him on a beach crying. It may depict that he was still not cured, and that was the reason why he wants not able to get back home to his family after all that.
Some even believe that Teddo poisoned the bullet before firing it, and that is the reason why he intentionally missed it. Die to the poison he does, and the last scene shows him crying as he goes into the afterlife.
Wild Indian has received praise for its direction and actors. However, many criticized the film for not being able to portray the native Americans correctly; however, the director has said that he was not portraying a community but a man in the film.
The film is a one-piece, and the director or the studio has not announced anything about its follow-up movie. Wild Indian is available on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video.