Yellowstone star Mo Brings Plenty reminisces about his time on another, very different series; in 2020, Mo starred in The Good Lord Bird as Ottawa Jones. Mo captioned his series of photos, “I played Ottawa Jones, who many don’t know, was good friends–in real life–with John Brown.”
The Good Lord Bird aired on Showtime for one season; it also starred Joshua Caleb Johnson as Henry “Onion” Shackleford and Daveed Diggs as Frederick Douglass. The show followed Onion as a “newly freed teenager”, joining up with John Brown and his rag-tag gang of abolitionists; together they embark on a “holy crusade to end slavery,” as described by Showtime.
The Good Lord Bird featured the famous raid of Harpers Ferry in 1859; there, Brown led his group in an attack on a federal armory “in an attempt to start an armed revolt of enslaved people and destroy the institution of slavery,” according to History. The attack led to Brown’s arrest and eventual hanging; before he went to the gallows he handed the executioner a paper; it read, “I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood.”
Ottawa Jones and John Brown
As for Mo Brings Plenty’s character in The Good Lord Bird: in real life John Tecumseh “Ottawa” Jones was an Ottawa Indian who served as an interpreter for the tribes as well as a leader of the Confederated Tribes who settled in Kansas after the Indian Removal Act of 1830.
Jones and Brown were good friends; Jones once gave Brown a hat after the battle of Osawatomie; Brown eventually wore it during the raid on Harpers Ferry. According to the John Brown Museum and State Historic Site, where the hat is on display, the gift is “symbolic of his [Brown’s] belief in racial equality.”
As a Christian, John Brown believed “racism was a sin against God, the sin of pride at its extreme,” according to the Miami County Republic. Brown was considered radical for his time, and his opposition often cited his crusade as proof of insanity. The Harpers Ferry attack is often credited as helping to “make any further accommodation between North and South nearly impossible”; this eventually led to the Civil War. The hat from Ottawa Jones–a plain, brown, unassuming hat, but signifying so much–was donated to the museum by John Brown’s wife, Mary Day Brown.
Mo Brings Plenty On ‘Yellowstone’
Currently, Mo Brings Plenty portrays Mo on Yellowstone, right-hand man to Thomas Rainwater, chief of the Broken Rock Reservation. In a deep-dive video into Mo’s character, Gil Birmingham, who plays Rainwater, said of him, “Mo is really the cultural foundation or center…so he carries the values of the culture more immediately.”
Mo Brings Plenty spoke on his Yellowstone character, stating, “Normally when people think of us as Native people, they think of us as the past, so it’s good to see that character grow”. Mo is a crucial character when it comes to grounding Rainwater, the level-headed voice at his ear.
Now, Yellowstone is coming back for a 4th season; viewers will get to see Mo grow as a character even more.