Michael Spears

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Michael Spears
Michael Spears Z Nation (2018).jpg
Spears on set of Z Nation in 2018
Michael Spears

(1977-12-28) 28 December 1977 (age 40)
Years active1990 - present
FamilyEddie Spears (brother)

Michael Spears (born December 28, 1977) is an American actor. He is a member of the Kul Wicasa Oyate Lakota (often called "Sioux") Lower Brulé Tribe of South Dakota.

Early life[edit]

Michael Spears was born in Chamberlain, South Dakota near the Lower Brulé Indian Reservation to Native American parents and lived there until he was in fifth grade.[1] After that, his family moved to Pierre, South Dakota.[2] Later, his family moved to Aberdeen, South Dakota where he grew up and graduated Simmons Middle School then Aberdeen Central High School, graduating in 1995.[3]

A member of the Sicangu Lakota (often called "Sioux") Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, he has six siblings. A younger brother, Eddie, is also an actor, with both movie and TV credits.[4]



Spears's film credits include a major role as the character Dog Star in the 2005 Steven Spielberg-produced cable mini-series, Into the West, which aired on TNT.

His debut role as the child character Otter, in the Academy-Award-winning 1990 film Dances with Wolves, also earned him national notice at thirteen years old. By the age of seventeen, Spears had acted in both TV and film with other actors, including Kevin Costner, Jimmy Smits and Kim Delaney.

In 2014, for his role as Tenkill in Angels in Stardust, Spears received critical acclaim in The New York Times.[5]

His most recent film role was as an outlaw, "Biscuit," alongside Bill Pullman in the Western, The Ballad of Lefty Brown.

Other work[edit]

In 2005, Michael and Eddie Spears modeled for Cochiti Pueblo fashion designer Virgil Ortiz for his "Indigene" clothing line, and were featured on the cover of the August 2005 issue of New Mexico Magazine.[6]

He has hosted and co-hosted the American Indian Film Institute Awards, the latest being the 38th Annual American Indian Film Institute Awards in 2013.[7]

In 2014 and 2015, Spears played a recurrent role as Savanukah, a member of the 1777 Cherokee Delegation, in Colonial Williamsburg's open-air stage production of The Beloved Women of Chota: War Women of the Cherokee[8].


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Dances with Wolves Otter Film
1992 The Broken Cord Young Adam TV Movie
1993 The Broken Chain Young Lohaheo TV Movie
1994 Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee Stat Man TV Movie
2002 Skins Teddy Yellow Lodge Film
2005 Into the West Dog Star TV Mini-Series
2007 Imprint Tom Greyhorse Film
2009 Shadowheart Washakie Film
2011 The Legend of Hell's Gate: An American Conspiracy Kutseena Film
2011 Yellow Rock Broken Wing Film
2012 Longmire Micah Dullknife TV Series
2012 Guns, Girls, and Gambling Redfoot Film
2013 Winter in the Blood Raymond Long Knife Film
2014 Angels in Stardust Tenkill Film
2014 The Activist Bud "One Bull" Ward Film
2014-2015 The Beloved Women of Chota Savanukah Stage Production
2017 The Ballad of Lefty Brown Biscuit Film
2018 Z Nation Black Hoof TV Series


  • American Indian Film Festival and Awards: Nominated in 2013 for Best Supporting Actor as Bud "One Bull" Ward in The Activist.
  • American Indian Film Festival and Awards: Nominated in 2011 for Best Actor as Broken Wing in Yellow Rock.
  • Bronze Wrangler Award at the Western Heritage Awards in 2012 for Lead Actor as Broken Wing in Yellow Rock.
  • Young Artist Awards Nominated in 1993 for Best Young Actor Under Ten in a Television Movie as Adam, as a boy in The Broken Cord .[9]

Personal life[edit]

Spears is an accomplished hand drum player and singer, often performing at Native American powwows and in non-tribal venues (he was the opening act for Rita Coolidge and Friends at her 2005 concert in Great Falls, Montana). Michael often travels to deliver speeches, concentrating on inspirational and educational topics including sustainable energy, and mentors youth in South Dakota.

He worked with his late father, Patrick Spears, and his brother Eddie on COUP's (Intertribal Council on Utility Policy) Native Energy and Native Wind[10] as part of the Inter-Tribal Group, whose goal is to encourage creation of "natural" sustainable energy sources. Formed in 1994, COUP provides a forum for utility issues discussion from regulatory and economic perspectives.[11]

He can speak some Lakota. Michael first learned from his father and grandfather, and is continuing to learn. During the filming of Into the West, he (and the other actors) had lessons from linguist, Charlie White Buffalo.[12]

Traditional Lakota ways and ceremonies are also a priority for Spears, as he often attends spiritual and cultural events across the country.


  1. ^ Interview with Michael Spears by Patricia Sheridan, Pittsburgh Post Gazette
  2. ^ Morreale, Marie. "DreamKeeper: Meet Eddie Spears" Archived 2004-09-04 at the Wayback Machine., scholastic.com, February 25, 2004.
  3. ^ Aberdeen News "Aberdeen: Former resident on TV series" http://articles.aberdeennews.com/2012-01-14/news/30628880_1_aberdeen-central-high-school-midcontinent-communications-series January 14, 2012.
  4. ^ Profile Archived 2014-04-05 at the Wayback Machine., spearsbrothersfans.webs.com; retrieved March 19, 2013.
  5. ^ Review, nytimes.com; accessed March 16, 2015.
  6. ^ Haaland, Debra. "An Eye for Fashion: Cochiti Pueblo's renowned potter Virgil Ortiz has expanded his artistic talents to the world of fashion, now rubbing elbows with famed international designer Donna Karan" Archived 2007-12-19 at the Wayback Machine., nmmagazine.com; accessed March 16, 2015.
  7. ^ IMDb profile, imdb.com; retrieved February 23, 2015.
  8. ^ Bridges, Heather. "Hollywood and local actors join forces through CW's American Indian Initiative". vagazette.com. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  9. ^ Profile, imdb.com; accessed March 16, 2015.
  10. ^ http://www.nativeenergy.com/
  11. ^ Renaud, Roseanna, "KILI celebrates 25 years and wind turbine dedication", LakotaCountryTimes.com; accessed March 16, 2015.
  12. ^ Interview with Michael Spears by Lynn Taylor Rick, Rapid City Journal Archived 2012-07-13 at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]