Indian Killer

Institute History

  • 1998 Directors Lab


A murderer is stalking and scalping white men in Seattle. While this so-called "Indian Killer" terrorizes the city, its Native American population is thrown into a turmoil. John Smith, an Indian adopted as a newborn into a white family, is increasingly dissatisfied with his life and dreams of an existence he might have led on the reservation—he is gently descending into madness. In his search for connection he meets William Wilson and Nancy Meadows, two Seattle homicide detectives.

William Wilson, a Spokane Indian who left the reservation long ago and has never returned, is the first Native American homicide detective in Seattle and an overachieving workaholic who spends his days chasing after the Indian Killer and his nights in a series of one-night stands with white women.

Nancy Meadows, a middle-aged white woman, is the most experienced homicide detective in Seattle and proves to be an able mentor for William Wilson, but she is also trying to repair her marriage, broken apart by the death of her ten year old son by leukemia.

As Wilson and Meadows search for the mysterious Indian Killer, John Smith meets Marie Polatkin, a strident young Spokane Indian student at the local university who is isolated from her tribe; she is highly educated, but not in her own traditions. Marie is particularly enraged with people such as Clarence Mather, a local popular mystery writer who passes himself off as part Indian in a desperate attempt at acceptance. Mather is determined to write about the brutal killings in his next novel, a novel that he believes will truly express what it is like to be Indian.

With each new murder, the city is gripped by fear, and hate crimes perpetrated by white men against the Native American community grow increasingly violent. As the murderer searches for his next victim and the Indian population of Seattle is filled with a strange combination of fear and relief, INDIAN KILLER builds to an unexpected and terrifying climax.


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