Tantoo Cardinal

Tantoo Cardinal Photo


Date of Birth: July 20, 1950

With appearances in over 100 films and television programs, Canadian actress Tantoo Cardinal has paved the way for the recognition of Native actors and actresses in mainstream productions.

Hailing from Fort McMurray, Alberta, Tantoo, whose birth name is Rose Marie Cardinal, played the role of Indian princess Tantou in her first feature film, Marie Anne, in 1979. She was billed as Tantoo Martin. Her role as Rosanne Ladouceur in Loyalties (1986) earned her a Genie Award nomination for best actress. She would go on to win several other awards for the same film, including the American Indian Film Festival Best Actress Award and best actress at the Alberta Motion Picture Industries Association awards.

In 1990, Tantoo starred as "Black Shawl" opposite Kevin Costner in the Oscar-winning Best Picture Dances with Wolves. With increasing recognition on a global scale, Tantoo went on to appear in many other notable films including Black Robe (1991), Silent Tongue (1994), Legends of the Fall (1994), Sioux City (1994), Unnatural & Accidental (2006), Mothers & Daughters (2008) and Shouting Secrets (2011).

Tantoo also carried her talents over to establish a successful career on the small screen. She has been featured on many popular TV shows, including a recurring role as Snow Bird on the American series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. She has also starred on Canadian series such as North of 60, Moccasin Flats, Blackstone and Mohawk Girls and on the Netflix series Frontier as Kamenna.

Considered to be the "most widely recognized Native Actress of her generation," Tantoo has been honored for her many accomplishments and contributions to the Native artistic community, with a lifetime contribution Eagle Spirit Award from the Native Indian Film Festival in 1990. In 1998, she received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award to recognize her work in theater, television and film.

In 2009, Tantoo became a member of the Order of Canada, the second highest civilian honor in Canada. As a founding member of the Saskatchewan Native Theatre Company, Tantoo was appointed as a member for her contributions to "the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada." At the 2017 Canadian Screen Awards, she was awarded the Earle Grey Award for her body of work's "impact upon the Canadian film industry."

Tantoo has a son, Cheyenne, with first husband Fred Martin and a daughter, Riel, with second husband, actor John Lawlor. She also has another son, Clifford, from a relationship that took place between marriages.

Photo by Nadia Kwandibens.


On the Farm (2016)
ARQ (2016)
Hope Bridge (2015)
Maïna (2014)
From Above (2013)
Eden (2012)
Shouting Secrets (2011)
Fathers & Sons (2010)
Mothers & Daughters (2009)
Unnatural & Accidental (2006)
Edge of Madness (2002)
Postmark Paradise (2000)
Honey Moccasin (1998)
Silence (1997)
Legends of the Fall (1994)
Sioux City (1994)
Where the Rivers Flow North (1993)
Black Robe (1991)
Dances With Wolves (1990)
Loyalties (1987)
Running Brave (1983)
Death Hunt (1981)
Marie Ann (1978)