‘1883’: One Tribute to a Kevin Costner Film You May Not Have Noticed

by Courtney Blackann

If scenes of “1883” and “Yellowstone” don’t give you flashbacks to Kevin Costner’s prior Western films, then you probably aren’t as big of a fan as you might think. The longtime actor has starred in numerous roles which cross native cultures with cowboys and outlaws. Costner is even working on a new project that will highlight indigenous communities and their traditions. And at least one scene in the most recent episode of “1883” has us all feeling nostalgic for a Kevin Costner classic.

In episode eight of “1883’s” season one, Elsa is gifted the heart of a buffalo from Sam after the two kill it. She embraces the ritual and eats the heart, leaving blood all over her face. This is something she proudly wears long after the two have cleaned the buffalo.

Mirroring the 1990 Oscar-winning film, “Dances With Wolves,” the scene is bringing back some major nostalgia for Kevin Costner fans. Costner notably directed and starred in the Western. And there’s a moment when Costner, as a westerner, embraces the native culture after he rescues a young indigenous woman. He’s offered a heart and he takes it, accepting the practice in gratitude.

Likewise, Elsa accepts the heart of a buffalo given to her by Sam. The scene is almost identical and draws comparisons to Costner’s former feature. Is it a coincidence that Taylor Sheridan wrote the scene that way? Or was he giving a nod to the legendary actor and director in Kevin Costner? Either way, the scene of “1883” is a fun easter egg to be had by all.

Kevin Costner on “1883”-like Project “Onward”

Interestingly, “Dances With Wolves” earned 12 Oscar nominations and took home seven – something that Costner didn’t have to ever top. But the star has continued his work in the Western genre, making a mark on the style. Since his time in the early 1990s, Costner’s interest in both Westerns and indigenous cultures has grown.

His newest project includes a documentary series about native cultures and their plight. He hopes to shed some light on those lesser-known communities and bring their issues to the forefront. Speaking about the series, entitled, “Onward,” showrunner Smitri Mundrha shares details.

“I’m excited by the opportunity to explore the themes of family, sustainability, culture, and community through a global Indigenous lens. Especially in partnership with storytellers who are most closely connected to those worlds.”

Further, collaborative partner Cale Glendering also offers some insight into the new series.

“‘Onward’ is not only a preservation project but also a celebration of culture,” Glendening said. “My goal is to create the largest visual anthology of Indigenous people in the world so that we can help keep these traditions alive.”