He has hit Harrison Ford on the head. He has ridden a horse past Leonardo DiCaprio. He has had to wipe the sweat off of his palms prior to shaking the hand of Kevin Spacey. He is Moses Brings Plenty, and he is a Miami County resident making a name for himself in film and television.
Brings Plenty, a Lakota Indian who lives with his wife north of Kansas Highway 68 near Somerset Road, has been featured as Crazy Horse in several History Channel docuseries, portrayed “Apache Warrior 2” in the movie “Cowboys & Aliens,” and played the role of Chief White Hall opposite Kevin Spacey’s Francis Underwood in Season 2, Episode 8, of “House of Cards.”
“I was super nervous to work with Kevin Spacey because of his talent,” Brings Plenty said. “I was literally sweating out of the palms of my hands, trying to look calm and collected. He came walking in to shake hands. I had to wipe my hand on my pant leg. I just did not want to screw up.”
In the film, “The Revenant,” opening this Friday, Brings Plenty provided his services as a stunt horse rider. Also this year, he has a starring role as Sitting Bull in the AMC television series, “The West,” which is produced by Robert Redford and slated for release this summer. He won awards for his portrayal of Charlie Soap in the independent Indian film, “The Cherokee Word for Water.”
He has also appeared in the television series, “Hell on Wheels,” as White Feather, and as a model for Harley Davidson Motorcycles and the Ed Hardy clothing line.
Brings Plenty was born in 1969 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. He grew up on Pine Ridge, but also lived for a time on other Lakota reservations, including the Cheyenne River and Rosebud reservations.
He attended school in the 1970s on the reservations, and he was not fond of them.
“It was the old school mentality of what Captain Richard Henry Pratt stated in an 1878 congressional meeting, that you have to ‘kill the Indian to save the man,’” Brings Plenty said. “I was forced to attend a Catholic school on the reservation. It is now known as the Red Cloud Indian School. I did not like it there.”
He completed eighth grade at a public school on the Cheyenne River Reservation, but later dropped out of high school.
“It wasn’t teaching me anything,” he said. “All it did was make me ashamed of who I am because that is how society made us feel.
“It all began to unravel for me in my mid-20s. I started questioning more, and I began to look at the past, not the horrifying past that we know, but the past of who we were as a people,” Brings Plenty said.
He was guided in his journey of self-discovery by his younger brother, Chief Joseph Brings Plenty, and by an older member of his tribe named Celo Black Crow. He learned that his great-grandfather fought at the Little Big Horn alongside his four younger brothers, one of whom was recognized at the age of 14 as a chief by the United States government.
Imagine being raised in a place where you learn or hear things such as “We must kill the Indian to save the man,” or “The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” Brings Plenty said. It impacts you emotionally and psychologically to grow up facing racism such as that.
“Just look at old Westerns,” he said. “John Wayne shoots one time and 12 Indians fall off their horses. Indians were always portrayed as the villains.”
Brings Plenty said that is starting to change, and he wants to be a part of pushing it even further along. He got off to a lucky start, and now he wants to make a difference.
When “Dances with Wolves” was being produced, the casting director was looking for native horse riders to ride bareback. Brings Plenty thought that this would be his break. Because he was so banged up from riding bulls for a living at the time, he was unable to handle the bareback riding.
But then, the movie “Thunder Heart” came along, and they needed carpenters. He applied to be a carpenter to help build the set, but a casting director saw him and put him in the movie as an extra. From there, he also made uncredited appearances in “Hidalgo” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.”
Those uncredited appearances led to him being cast as Crazy Horse in a docudrama that aired on the History Channel. He portrayed Crazy Horse in several other series, as well as Quanah Parker in the documentary, “Comanche Warriors.”
He started getting credited movies and television roles after that, including his roles in “Cowboys & Aliens” and “House of Cards.”
His goal is to land more mainstream roles and show the world that Indians are still here, they still exist.
“People look at me all the time like they would look at Santa Claus,” Brings Plenty said. “They are like, ‘Woah, you do exist.’ But, we are facing the extinction of our people.
“If you watch a movie about the future, a sci-fi film, you have the Caucasians, blacks and Asians, but you never have indigenous people. We are not there in the future. I want to change that because we are a people who persevere. After everything we have been through, we should not even be here, but we are still here.”
While his English name is Moses Brings Plenty, his Lakota name is “Ta Sunke O’yuspa Un,” which translates as “He Catches the Horse.” He said he received his Indian name based on who he is in his spirit, and he serves as the spiritual leader of his family.
“I believe in the perfection of God,” Brings Plenty said. “That helped me overcome my racism and my fears. God didn’t mess up when he created any people. God likes variety.”
“The man has really special gifts,” said Sara Ann Brings Plenty, his wife since 2008. “He hears and sees things the rest of us can’t. He has old traditional knowledge, and he is one of the few people who can run ceremonies in the old traditional way.”
Sara Ann grew up in Louisburg and is the granddaughter of the late Fred Barnes, a well-known man in the community.
“I never thought I’d be living here,” Moses Brings Plenty said. “If someone told me when I was young that I would be living in Kansas, I would not have believed them. But, here I am. I have established enough of a name for myself that I don’t have to live in L.A. I love it here. It is an area with a lot of wonderful human beings.”