Smoke Signals (1998)

PG-13  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  26 June 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 7,946 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 132 user | 56 critic | 17 from

Young Indian man Thomas is a nerd in his reservation, wearing oversize glasses and telling everyone stories no-one wants to hear. His parents died in a fire in 1976, and Thomas was saved by... See full summary »



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10 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Evan Adams ...
Suzy Song
Young Victor Joseph
Young Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Monique Mojica ...
Chief Leonard George ...
Lester Fallsapart (as Leonard George)
Junior Polatkin
Michelle St. John ...
Cathy the Gymnast


Young Indian man Thomas is a nerd in his reservation, wearing oversize glasses and telling everyone stories no-one wants to hear. His parents died in a fire in 1976, and Thomas was saved by Arnold. Arnold soon left his family (and his tough son Victor), and Victor hasn't seen his father for 10 years. When Victor hears Arnold has died, Thomas offers him funding for the trip to get Arnold's remains, but only if Thomas will also go with him. Thomas and Victor hit the road. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A new film from the heart of Native America.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some intense images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

26 June 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$43,574 (USA) (26 June 1998)


$6,719,300 (USA) (16 October 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The song "All My Relations" performed by Ulali at the end of the film uses the traditional Irish tune "Garryowen". The tune was a favorite of Acting-General George Armstrong Custer during the Civil War, and became the official air of the US 7th Cavalry Regiment in 1867. According to legend, it was the last tune played before the Battle of the Little Bighorn, where Custer and his entire regiment were killed. See more »


Thomas says that Victor's dad looks like Charles Bronson in Death Wish V: The Face of Death, the one where he fights the Asian gang. It is actually an Irish gang in that number. See more »


[Thomas concludes his story he is trading for a ride]
Thomas Builds-the-Fire: Arnold got arrested, you know. But he got lucky. They charged him with attempted murder. Then they plea-bargained that down to assault with a deadly weapon. Then they plea-bargained that down to being an Indian in the Twentieth Century. Then he got two years in Walla Walla.
Lucy: [to Velma] What do you think?
Velma: I think it's a fine example of the oral tradition.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Special thanks to ... The SiJohn Family and The Coeur d'Alene Tribe ... the residents and cities of Coeur d'Alene, DeSmet, Plummer, Tensed and Worley, Idaho, Spokane and Soap Lake, Washington ... Montana Artists ... See more »


Featured in Reel Injun (2009) See more »


A Million Miles Away
Written and Performed by Jim Boyd
Lyrics by Sherman Alexie
Courtesy of Thunderwolf Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Overlooked masterpiece
13 February 2003 | by (Prairie Village KS) – See all my reviews

This film did not get the attention it deserved. When I first heard about a film made by Native Americans, I was afraid it would be an exercise in political correctness. But the ethnicity of the characters took a back seat to the universal themes of friendship and learning to come to terms with one's past. This is one of the greatest "buddy movies" ever made. A couple of years after I saw it I drove through the American Southwest for the first time, and images of the film kept coming into my head. This is a film which really stays with you.

20 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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