To celebrate Father’s Day, we talked with some famous father-daughter duos about life, lessons, and love.
David Midthunder is an enrolled tribal member at the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Indian Reservation in Montana. For the last 15 years he has appeared in a myriad of films as compelling Indigenous characters, but he’s perhaps best known for his leading role as Famous Shoes in the Lonesome Dove prequel Comanche Moon. And in 2022, he had guest-starring spots in two episodes of 1883 as the Comanche character Two Feathers, one of which saw him riding with Martin Sensmeier and coming to the aid of Shea, James, Elsa, and Thomas during a shootout with cattle thieves.
David appeared opposite his good friend Wes Studi in the period western Hostiles as the villain Buffalo Man. “We level justice against Buffalo Man by hanging him by the neck in a tree towards the end of our trek,” Studi says. “David is my friend, and it was great to take a selfie and mount it next to what was supposed to be his lifeless body."
David’s daughter Amber Midthunder, also an enrolled tribal member at the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Indian Reservation, has been full speed aboard the acting train for the last five years. Still in her early 20s, Amber is currently starring as Rosa Ortecho in The CW’s Roswell, New Mexico, which films in her hometown of Santa Fe. She recently starred opposite Liam Neeson in the film thriller The Ice Road and just completed a star-making role in Dan Trachtenberg’s prequel to the Predator series, Prey, scheduled to air on Hulu this summer.
Both David and Amber appeared in the contemporary western series Longmire as
David Ridges and Lilly Stillwater.
Cowboys & Indians: Tell us about some experiences in the West that made you and Amber close when she was growing up.
David Midthunder: Amber and I both raised and rode horses on our ranch here in Santa Fe and experienced Caucasian and Native horse culture. We currently have a Spanish Barb and Thoroughbred that raced on the track for a while, then became an Indian relay racer, and next a movie horse before coming to our family. His named is Rattler. I adopted him after the movie Cowboys & Aliens. Rattler is 32 now, and Amber still loves riding him.
C&I: What makes your bond with your daughter so special?
David: We have a deep family love, and I want nothing but the best for her. The Lakota way is not about yourself but about the next generation. I love her immensely, whether I verbalize it or not. I’ve raised Amber and my boys in traditional Lakota spirituality, and that is what makes our bond so special.
C&I: Like father, like daughter — how are you two alike?
David: How are we alike? That’s a hard question, and I had to ask my wife, Angelique, about it. We are both adventuresome with our travels and sports that we do. Whenever we travel around the world, we try to immerse ourselves in the local culture and cuisine and never say no to anything. Well, we don't eat monkey. ... Amber is really good with socializing and likes walking the red carpet; I’d rather be riding my dirt bike.
C&I: Tell us about growing up in Santa Fe and some memorable experiences you and your dad had together.
Amber Midthunder: My dad has taught me how to dirt bike and go snowboarding in the winter in Santa Fe. We have ridden horses together ever since I was very young. My parents really made a little Utopia for us there while I was growing up. They created a wonderful life for themselves and have taught me to do this same.
C&I: Like father, like daughter — how are you alike?
Amber: We both really enjoy dill pickles — the sweet ones are trash. When I’m with him, I am really a daddy’s girl. We are both Led Zeppelin fans. I think I look like my dad and also think a lot like him, too.
C&I: What’s the best advice you’ve gotten from your dad?
Amber: First, let me say that I think the world of him, and he rarely tells me what to do. If I ask his opinion, he will let me know what he thinks. He has instilled me with bravery and curiosity and the ability to explore the world. He’s here to support me and help me learn, and he helped me value my time. I literally think that my dad was born to be a dad. He is the best father in the world. He is a very solid person and has been all the good things in my life: consistent, stable, and loving. The thing that I admire most about him is he always has good things to say but doesn’t talk all the time. He leads by example. He says something once, and I listen.
Next Dads and Daughters duo: Val and Mercedes Kilmer
From our May / June 2022 issue
Photography: Studio Seven Production