Tantoo Cardinal

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Tantoo Cardinal

Cardinal in 2022
Rose Marie Cardinal

(1950-07-20) July 20, 1950 (age 73)
  • Canada
  • Cree
  • Métis
Years active1975–present
Children3, including Cliff Cardinal

Rose Marie "Tantoo" Cardinal CM (born July 20, 1950) is a Canadian actress of Cree and Métis heritage. In 2009, she was made a member of the Order of Canada "for her contributions to the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada, as a screen and stage actress, and as a founding member of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company."[1]

Early life[edit]

Rose Marie "Tantoo"[2] Cardinal was born the youngest of three children to Julia Cardinal, a woman of Cree and Métis descent, and a white father.

Cardinal was raised in the hamlet of Anzac, Alberta. The lack of electricity inspired her to use her imagination while playing in the bush. Her grandmother nicknamed her "Tantoo" after the insect repellent they used while picking blueberries together. She taught Cardinal the Cree language, the traditional ways of their culture and the difficulties she would face growing up Métis in Canada. Cardinal has said that it was walking behind her grandmother where she first learned to act.[2][3][4]


Cardinal in 2001

Cardinal has played roles in many notable films and television series, including Spirit Bay, Loyalties, Dances with Wolves, Black Robe, Legends of the Fall, Smoke Signals, Hold the Dark and North of 60. She was cast in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation mini-series By Way of the Stars with Gordon Tootoosis as the Cree Chief and Eric Schweig as Black Thunder.

In 2009, she was made a member of the Order of Canada "for her contributions to the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada, as a screen and stage actress, and as a founding member of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company".[1]

Cardinal's Hand print on the Aboriginal Walk of Honour in Canada

On August 23, 2011, Cardinal, Margot Kidder, and dozens of others were arrested while protesting the proposed extension of the Keystone Pipeline.[5]

In 2012, she performed the role of Regan in an all-aboriginal production of William Shakespeare's King Lear at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, alongside a cast that also included August Schellenberg as Lear, Billy Merasty as Gloucester, Jani Lauzon in a dual role as Cordelia and the Fool, and Craig Lauzon as Kent.[6]

She played Marilyn Yarlott for three seasons as a recurring cast member in the Netflix series Longmire, a Crow hunter and medicine woman who lives alone in the vast wilderness of the Crow reservation.

In 2017 she was named the winner of the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television's Earle Grey Award for lifetime achievement.[7] She has also won a Gemini Award, a National Aboriginal Achievement Award (now Indspire Award) and was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.[2]

In the 2018 film The Grizzlies, she plays a high school principal who is skeptical that a first-time teacher can address social issues in the northwestern Nunavut community of Kugluktuk.

On November 26, 2021, along with other laureates, she received the "Governor General's Performing Arts Awards after a nearly two-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic".[8]

Personal life[edit]

Cardinal met her first husband, Fred Martin, while boarding at his family's home during her high school years in Edmonton. They were married from 1968 to 1978 and had a son, Cheyenne, prior to their divorce.

She had her second son, Clifford, with Beaver Richards.

From 1988 to 2000, Cardinal was married to actor John Lawlor, with whom she had a daughter, Riel.[2]


Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1978 Marie-Anne Tantou
1981 Death Hunt Indian Woman
1983 Running Brave Caroline
1986 Places Not Our Own Rose
Loyalties Rosanne Ladouceur Nominated - Genie Award for Best Actress
1987 Candy Mountain Annie
1988 War Party Sonny's mother
1990 Divided Loyalties Molly Brant
Dances with Wolves Black Shawl
1991 Black Robe Chomina's Wife
1993 Silent Tongue Silent Tongue
Where the Rivers Flow North Bangor
Mustard Bath Sister Amantha
1994 Sioux City Dawn Rainfeather
Legends of the Fall Pet
1997 The Education of Little Tree Granma
Silence Dolores
1998 Honey Moccasin Honey Moccasin
Smoke Signals Arlene Joseph
Heartwood Violet Boucher
1999 The Hi-Line Singing Bird
A Stranger in the Kingdom Heaven Fontaine
2000 Postmark Paradise Reenie
Blood River Claire / Mattie Short
2002 Edge of Madness Ruth
2004 Memory Ida Short
2006 Unnatural & Accidental Aunt Shadie / Rita
2008 Older than America Auntie Apple
Ancestor Eyes Verna Short
Mothers & Daughters Celine
2010 Every Emotion Costs Aunt Marcy
2011 Shouting Secrets June
2012 Eden The Nurse
2013 From Above Older Venus
Maïna Tekahera
2014 Down Here Stella Mitchell
2015 Hope Bridge Lana
2016 ARQ The Pope
2017 Wind River Alice Crowheart
2018 Falls Around Her Mary Birchbark
The Grizzlies Janice
Through Black Spruce Mary-Lou
Hold the Dark Illanaq
Angelique's Isle Thunderbird Woman
2019 Red Snow Ruth
2020 The Corruption of Divine Providence Juniper Fairweather
2022 Wendell & Wild Miss Hunter (voice) [9]
The Last Manhunt Ticup
2023 Killers of the Flower Moon Lizzie Q Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2025 Wildwood Carol Grod (voice) In production


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Spirit Bay Annie Main role
1987 Gunsmoke: Return to Dodge Little Doe Television film
1990 The Campbells Maria Brant Episode: "Miles to Go"
1991 Lightning Field Vivian Television film
1992 Street Legal Renee Stonehouse Recurring role; 4 episodes
1992–93 By Way of the Stars Franois Television mini-series
1993 Harts of the West Helen Episode: "Auggie's End"
Spirit Rider Marilyn St. Claire Television film
1993–95 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Snow Bird Recurring role; 7 episodes
1994–97 North of 60 Betty Moses Recurring role; 7 episodes
1995 500 Nations (voice) Television mini-series
Tecumseh: The Last Warrior Turtle Mother Television film
1996 Grand Avenue Nellie Television film
1998 Big Bear Running Second Television mini-series
Cold Squad Theresa Sandiman Episode: "Salty Cheever"
2000 Navigating the Heart Mary Television film
The Lost Child Aunt Mary Television film
2001 MythQuest Walloha Episode: "Red Wolf's Daughter"
2002 Tom Stone Judge Crowfoot Episode: "Royalty"
2003–06 Moccasin Flats Betty Merasty Recurring role; 22 episodes
2004 Windy Acres Aunt Laura Recurring role; 7 episodes
H2O Grand Chief Katie Blackfire Guest role; 2 episodes
A Thief of Time Irene Musket Television film
2006 Indian Summer: The Oka Crisis Iba Beauvais 4 episodes
2007 Luna: Spirit of the Whale Gloria Maquinna Television film
2008 The Guard Ursula recurring role; 4 episodes
Just Breathe Heather Television film
Changing Climates, Changing Times Grace Lajoie Television film
2009 Tales of an Urban Indian Dianne Television film
Dear Prudence Ruth Vigil Television film
2010 Shattered Carol Guest role; 2 episodes
2012 The Killing Prostitute Episode: "Keylela"
2012–15 Blackstone Wilma Stoney Recurring role; 18 episodes
2013 Arctic Air Aunt Mary Episode: "Skeletons in the Closet"
2014 Strange Empire Pichette Episode: "Lonely Hearts"
2014–16 Mohawk Girls Zoe's Mom Recurring role; 5 episodes
2015–17 Longmire Marilyn Yarlott Guest role; 4 episodes
2016 Frontier Kamenna Guest role; 2 episodes
On the Farm Ada Taylor Television film
2017 Godless Iyovi Miniseries; 7 episodes
2018 Outlander Adawehi Guest role; 2 episodes
2019 See The Dreamer Guest role; 4 episodes
2019–20 Stumptown Sue Lynn Blackbird Series regular
2020 New Amsterdam Dr. Jane Munsee Episode: "Radical"
2021 Corner Gas Animated Julie Rouleau (voice) Episode: "A Lot to be Desired"
2022–present Spirit Rangers Moon (voice) Recurring role
2022 Three Pines Bea Mayer Series regular
2024 Echo Chula Series regular


Year Title Role Notes
2000 Island of the Blue Dolphins
2019 The Testaments

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2019 "Mehcinut" by Jeremy Dutcher

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Governor General Announces 57 New Appointments to the Order of Canada". gg.ca. Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. December 30, 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-30.
  2. ^ a b c d Pedersen, Anne-Marie; Defelice, James V.; Wise, Wyndham; Mullen, Patrick (December 19, 2018). "Tantoo Cardinal". thecanadianencyclopedia.ca. Historica Canada. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  3. ^ "Actress Tantoo Cardinal to speak at IU's Native Film Series on Feb. 20". iu.edu (Press release). Indiana University. February 12, 2008. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  4. ^ "Tantoo Cardinal". IMDb.com. The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  5. ^ "Margot Kidder arrested at White House oil protest". CBC.ca. CBC News. 23 August 2011. Retrieved February 25, 2021.
  6. ^ "Aboriginal cast in staging of King Lear". Ottawa Citizen. May 12, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Tantoo Cardinal among those getting special Canadian Screen Awards". The Guardian, January 12, 2016.
  8. ^ "Tantoo Cardinal, Ryan Reynolds, Catherine O'Hara receive their Governor General's awards". CBC News, November 27, 2021.
  9. ^ King, Jack (March 14, 2022). "'Wendell & Wild' Teaser Announces Ving Rhames, David Harewood, and More Joining Voice Cast". Collider. Retrieved March 14, 2022.

External links[edit]