Elaine did speak Lakota. Her husband was Sioux, and they would have been able to converse. I think that's a really important part of their bond and their connection.
How does it feel to depict a person who actually existed?
When you are playing a historical character, obviously there is a great responsibility to get it right. But, it's not just playing a character that really existed, but also depicting this particular period of history in this country. It's incredibly important to get it right and to do justice to the people whose lives we are trying to tell the story of - and to do that in a dignified, respectful and accurate manner, which I think, hopefully, we are doing.
Could you tell us a little bit about who Elaine was?
Elaine was a published poetess as a child. She continued to publish works of fiction and journalistic materials throughout her life. And, she was a teacher and had the position of being supervisor of the schools on the Sioux reservation during her early twenties. So, she traveled from the different agencies to sort of oversee things, and she ends up married to Dr. Charles Eastman, who is played by Adam Beach.
You've had to learn the Lakota language - how difficult was that?
I don't think any of us had to really learn the language as a whole, so much as learn phonetically the sentences, paragraphs and proverbs that I have to say. I feel somewhat foolish because I don't really know exactly what I am saying. But, it's been really interesting. And, I think it's great including it in the film because Elaine did speak Lakota. Her husband was Sioux, and they would have been able to converse. I think that's a really important part of their bond and their connection. She is not just another person from the other culture who doesn't understand and doesn't want to understand.