Longmire - do Cheyenne really talk like that?

On the TV show Longmire, the character of Henry Standing Bear speaks with a certain rhythm and does not use contractions. He sounds like Tonto after learning to use pronouns. It makes him sound wise and slightly mystical.

Is that authentic? It kind of bugs me. I would be able to relax and enjoy the show better if it turned out to be an authentic regional/ethnic linguistic quirk.

What’s really going to jar you is, they’ve got tons of Native Americans on the show, and AFAICT the rest of 'em lack that affectation – even when they’re talking with him.

been noticing that

Frankly, I can forgive that in old shows like the Lone Ranger. But we should be way past that sort of thing now.

Longmire may have just crossed the line for me. TV and movies are always overusing the chk-chck sound effect of jacking a round into the chamber of pump shotgun. They use it for EVERYTHING. In this episode Longmire hears the chk-chk behind him and turns to see a guy with a side-by-side double barrel shotgun, a gun that doesn’t make any sound but boom! Uggh!!!

I can’t say Cheyenne specifically, but it is definitely an older generational thing.

Googling around, it looks like it wasn’t scripted that way; Lou Diamond Phillips apparently dropped the contractions on his own initiative.

But he apparently did so because that’s how Henry was written in the books.

So I don’t know how to feel about that.

The reason he speaks like that, and particularly the non-use of contractions, is taken from the books by Craig Johnson. There really is no explanation in the books as to why he speaks like that, other than perhaps a quest for clarity, just that it’s what he does. My only issue with the Standing Bear character in the TV series is that he in no way resembles the physical description of the book character, who is a giant of a man with very long black hair in the traditional Indian style.

From the author himself:

I went to a Craig Johnson (author of the Longmire books) book signing a couple of years ago. Someone asked him if there was anything that had been left out of the show that he wished hadn’t been. He mentioned a scene that got cut that he really wished had been included. In the scene, Branch and Henry are conversing. Finally at the end of the conversation, this happens (paraphrased):

Branch: “Why don’t you ever use contractions, anyway?”
Henry: “What is the hurry?”

That sounds very familiar and may be a quote from the books, which I love.

Yeah, I suck. I went to this book signing a couple of years ago and still haven’t read the books I got at it! So, I don’t know if this conversation takes place in the books or not. The books are in my stack, though. I’m a slow reader and have some thick books to get through, but I’ll get to the Longmire ones eventually.

Ok. If it is quirk of the individual character, I can get behind that. So far (first 5 episodes) they have not made that clear.

Have. Not.


I used to work with quite a number of native Americans from various tribes when I was in public radio. Many of them have a slight lilt to their voices, which I hear occasionally on the show, and a kind of inflection at the end of their sentences than sounded somewhat like they were asking questions rather than simply making statements. At least that’s what it sounded to my lily-white Midwestern Chicago born ears.

I don’t know about this season (I haven’t seen it yet this season), but many of the native Americans used are Navajo and Apache. This comes from being filmed in New Mexico. I have noticed extras speaking Navajo and have notice what sounds like Apache. But I am not entirely certain on that.

They should be read in sequence. Although they can stand alone, they’re more fun if read in order.

TGWATY: If you listen to conversations later on between Henry and other tribe members, you’ll note that they do use contractions, and speak English normally. Henry is his own animal.

I generally like Lou Diamond Phillips in the series, even though he doesn’t physically match the Standing Bear of the books. I am a little miffed that they dropped the Vietnam veteran backstory between the two characters, though. I guess they’re trying to appeal to a younger demographic (and clearly LDP doesn’t look old enough).

Craig Johnson addressed this too. :slight_smile: He initially griped that the ages of Robert Taylor and LDP didn’t match the ages of Longmire and Henry. But then the producers pointed out that, if the show goes on for 10 seasons or longer, they don’t want to be starting off with old actors, because then they’ll end up being *really *old by the time the series winds down.

And they don’t explain it. They would’ve explained it, but then they cut that scene.

They would’ve had enough time, but, well, you know.

So I have this anecdote from a fan conference where both Craig Johnson and Lou Diamond Phillips were present.

Lou was reading for the part. Unlike all the other auditioners, he read the script with no contractions–it wasn’t written that way, although the character in the books never does use a contraction. Craig Johnson had this to say: “The sonofabitch had read my books!” He really liked that, and as to whether that was the deciding factor whether LDP got the part, well, that I don’t remember.

Yeah, LDP is a lot smaller/shorter than Henry Standing Bear. However, he is a big screen presence.

Anyway, no, not all Cheyenne talk like that. Henry Standing Bear does though.