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Miles in 2001
|Occupation||Actress, Stand-up comedian|
Elaine Miles was born in Pendleton, Oregon, of Cayuse/Nez Perce ancestry, and lived to the age of three on the Umatilla Indian Reservation in eastern Oregon. Her family then moved to Renton, Washington, where her father was a Boeing machinist. She learned many of the traditional skills in her youth—storytelling, beading, pottery and weaving—and is a prize-winning traditional dancer.
Miles was offered the role of Marilyn Whirlwind when she was spotted in the waiting room at an audition. This came as a surprise as she had not come with any intent to audition—she was only there to give her mother, Armenia Miles, a ride. She had no previous acting experience. However, Elaine ("Choppie") Miles, in her teens, used to work summers, portraying Sacajawea at the Fort Vancouver Historic Site, in Vancouver, Washington. She gained respect in the American Indian community, not only for portraying a Tlingit woman, but for her efforts to make sure the character was a culturally accurate representation. Miles was named Native American Woman of the Year in 1993, and America's Celebrity Indian of the Year in 1995.
Since Northern Exposure, Miles has done tours with her dancing and stand-up comedy, has emceed at numerous Pow-wows, and had roles in independent films such as Smoke Signals, Skins and The Business of Fancydancing. With fellow comedian Drew LaCapa (Apache), she has made an exercise video ("RezRobics") addressing diabetes rates among Native Americans. The video mixes pow wow dancing, martial arts and aerobics moves with nutritional advice. In contrast to the usual FBI warning, the creators encourage people to copy the video freely and distribute it among friends and relatives in Indian Country.
|1990-1995||Northern Exposure||Marilyn Whirlwind||TV series, 110 episodes|
|1994||Bill Nye, the Science Guy||self||documentary, TV series, 2 episodes|
|1995||Mad Love||Housekeeper||feature film|
|1996||The Rez||Mad Etta||TV series, 18 episodes|
|1996||Pandora's Clock||Housekeeper||TV mini-series, 2 of 2 episodes|
|1998||Scattering Dad||TV movie|
|1998||Smoke Signals||Lucy||feature film|
|2002||The Business of Fancydancing||Kim||feature film|
|2002||Skins||Rondella Roubaix||feature film|
|2003||Images of Indians: How Hollywood Stereotyped the Native American||self, archive footage||documentary, TV movie|
|2007||Tortilla Heaven||Caridad||feature film|
|2008||Fry Bread Babes||self||documentary, short film|
|2009||Wyvern||Deputy Barnes||TV movie|
|2012||Universal VIP||N'ah||short film|
|2012||By the Salish Sea||Salish Woman||voice, short film|
|2014||Four Quarters||Mrs. Burke||feature film|
|2015||Fishing Naked||Louise 'Grandma' Ottertale||feature film|
- Taylor, Catherine "Marilyn Speaks! A Conversation with Elaine Miles", Radiance Magazine, Fall 1993 Issue
- Biography: Elaine Miles Archived 2006-05-01 at the Wayback Machine on Northern Exposure site. Access date 26 Sep 2009
- "February | 2010 | Coyotecooks Blog". coyotecooks.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2017-11-19.
- Awards for Elaine Miles at IMDbPro: Screen Actors Guild Awards. Access date 26 Sep 2009
- Rez Robics Archived February 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine