Yellowstone’s Gil Birmingham Reveals The True Meaning Behind Kayce’s Vision Quest


While Taylor Sheridan rose to prominence in the movie world with films such as “Hell Or High Water” and “Wind River,” he’s found his greatest success in the television realm, with the Paramount series “Yellowstone.” The show follows the exploits of the Dutton family, a group of ranchers in Montana, as they come into conflict with developers, government officials, and each other, with an ensemble cast that includes Kevin Costner, Kelly Reilly, Wes Bentley, and Cole Hauser.

The fourth season sees Kayce Dutton, played by Luke Grimes, decide to take on Indigenous warrior initiation rites so he can be recognized as a full tribal member by his in-laws, the family of his wife, Monica Long Dutton, played by Kelsey Asbille. To this end, Kayce visits Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) and Mo (Mo Brings Plenty), who send him on a vision quest, taking him to a site and leaving him there to brave the outdoors for four days without food or water, unable to leave until Rainwater and Mo return.

In a recent roundtable interview, Birmingham spoke about the significance of Kayce’s vision quest.

The ritual portrayed is an authentic Indigenous rite

Speaking to Deadline, Gil Birmingham, who has been part of the “Yellowstone” cast since the beginning, was asked about the significance of Kayce’s rituals at the end of the fourth season, and whether or not this is an authentic portrayal of Indigenous rites. Birmingham confirmed that it is, adding that the rites are meant to be healing rites.


“The Hanbleceya is a real thing and we were very respectful and specific about the way it was portrayed,” Birmingham responded, “Taylor has incorporated some of the native ceremonies, the Inipi with the sweat, and then the Hanbleceya, the vision quest. So those are real things, and they’re healing things, and they speak to the culture, and a way of healing. That’s, I think, what Taylor intended to incorporate in the storyline.”

Kayce’s own vision quest in Season 4 leads to nightmares and bad flashbacks which make him think that his marriage to Monica might be in danger of ending soon. Kelsey Asbille, however, suggested otherwise in the same interview, saying that she’s proud of Monica’s unconditional love for Kayce and her family. The combination of both sets up an interesting avenue for “Yellowstone” to go down in its fifth season.


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