Miles portrays Marilyn Whirlwind,
Dr. Joel Fleischman's (Rob
Morrow) quietly sage assistant. Marilyn's consistently calm
demeanor accentuates Fleischman's neurotic behavior. From the moment
they meet at Cicely's makeshift medical office, where Marilyn insists
on applying for and accepting a job that Fleischman claims doesn't
exist, the doctor knows he has met his match.
Born on April
7, 1960 in Pendleton, Oregon, Miles was raised outside the Seattle
area as a member of the Umatilla tribe, one of three tribes on her
reservation. Brought up traditionally with her parent's Indian heritage,
Cayuse and Nez Perce, Miles learned her Native American culture
through ancestral storytelling. Skilled in the traditional activities
of her tribe -- beading, pottery and weaving -- Miles is also a
prize-winning traditional dancer, placing second in the Women's
Traditional Buckskin dancing in the Goodwill Games held in Everett,
Washington. She has received multiple awards from the First Americans
in the Arts and was named Native American Woman of the Year in 1993,
and America's Celebrity Indian of the Year in 1995.
no previous acting experience, Miles was discovered by Northern
Exposure's casting agents when she accompanied her mother,
Armenia Miles, and other local
Native Americans to an audition for the part of Marilyn. After seeing
her in the waiting room, the agents asked her to read for the part.
They immediately gave her the role of Marilyn, and cast her mother
in the recurring role of Mrs. Anku, Ed's (Darren
E. Burrows) aunt and wife of the local medicine man. Miles spends
her down time traveling in her truck to numerous parades and festivals,
where she performs her native dancing. Since Northern Exposure,
Miles has appeared in several films, including Mad
Love (1994,) Smoke
Signals (1997), and Skins
(2002), with fellow NoEx cast member, Graham
Green. She has also appeared on CBC's half-hour series The
Rez as Etta the medicine woman.
One of her
recent projects was RezRobics
- a workout video to extoll the need for native americans to exercise
and avoid health problems such as diabetes. Featuring
Elaine and Drew LaCapa, the self-billed "300 pounds of love" Apache
comedian, the video is the branchild of Pam Belgarde, a Turtle Mountain
Chippewa health worker, and Gary Rhine, a producer/director. The
exercise video won an award from the American
Indian Film Institute. She also received the Eagle Spirit Award
from AIFI in 2001.
In 2002, she
also appeared in "The
Business of Fancydancing," which debuted at the Sundance
Film Festival. The film is the directorial debut of "Smoke Signals"
Alexie. The film, based on Sherman Alexie's collection of poetry
and short stories, "The
Business of Fancydancing,'' depicts the return of a successful
Indian poet to Spokane for the funeral of a childhood friend and
examines issues about the social identity of Native Americans and
the concept of Indian "authenticity." She joins fellow NoEx
cast member, Cynthia
Geary, in both Sherman Alexie films.
She appeared in the movie Tortilla
Heaven, which was filmed in 1999, but was finally released in March 2007 and is making the film festival rounds. She continues to be active in the PowWow
circuit as an award-winning dancer. She participated on
a panel with Native
Lens, 911 Media Arts Center's film program for Native American
teenagers. She was on the internet series "Home, Home on the Rez" on the Red Nation Media Channel. She also appeared in the Sci-Fi channel original movie, Wyvern, in early 2009 -- teaming up with fellow Northern Exposure cast mate, Barry Corbin.
and Current Projects:
She currently performs as a comedienne and an emcee.