Costner, crew team up with Southern Utah tribe to protect, preserve while filming on reservation

‘We’re in cultural sites in a couple of the areas, which I pointed out, and they respected everything.’

(Fred Hayes | St. George News) The Duran family visits the set, on location near St. George, Utah (L to R) Tyson Ali Duran, Reegan Duran, Kevin Costner, Ava Duran, Paiute Restoration Pow Wow Princess 2023-24, and Travis Duran, Shivwitts Reservation Land Resource Manager, Ivins, Utah, unspecified date.

St. George • Working with the Native Americans in Southern Utah to protect their land is a priority for the Kevin Costner production “Horizon: An American Saga 2.” The four-part film series covers 15 years around the American Civil War and the expansion of the West.

The soothing sound of the Santa Clara River and soft red dirt on the Shivwits Band of Paiutes Indian reservation was the background for some movie scenes. The tribal land spans 28,000 acres in southwestern Washington County, 12 miles northwest of St. George, near Ivins, Utah.

Shivwits Reservation Land Resources Manager Travis Duran told St George News that the Oscar-winning director and crew treated the land and its people respectfully.

“The best thing was working with Kevin’s crew. We’re all working together and they were more active in asking what they should be careful of,” Duran said. “We’re in cultural sites in a couple of the areas, which I pointed out, and they respected everything.”

(Photo courtesy of Fred Hayes | St. George News) “Horizon: An American Saga 2” crew prepares for filming on location near St. George, Utah, Directed by Kevin Costner, copyright Territory Pictures, Inc., Ivins, Utah, unspecified date.

Costner told St. George News his first choice of location on the reservation didn’t pan out, even though he kept trying to make it work.

“Every day, my dream was to film at this other place. We even built a suspension bridge,” Costner said. “And we were going to crane our wagons 50 feet in the air over the river, drop them down on that location. So I had it on my head, we built it, we had the cranes out there. And then the big snowpack came. And everybody said, ‘The water’s gonna come up’.”

Costner said he made “a snap decision” about what to do when the Santa Clara River rose about 12 feet higher than expected. The mountains nearby had a record snowfall. He said at the original location, the river came up over the suspension bridge they had built and flooded.

“It broke my heart because losing my location turns me into a baby a little bit because I have my mind set on what it’s going to look like and how people will enjoy it,” Costner said.

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This article is published through the Utah News Collaborative, a partnership of news organizations in Utah that aim to inform readers across the state.