“We have a saying,” said Josiah Blackeagle Pinkham, Cultural Consultant for the Nez Percé (Nimiipuu) the first time we met. “You are who you take care of.”
That value of giving yourself for others, to ensure that your family, your friends, and your community, are living their best lives, reverberated through myself and the Killer Instinct Creative Designer Adam Isgreen as we sat in the Cultural Resource Center in Lapwai, Idaho amongst piles of Nez Percé clothing, headpieces, jewelry, tools, and weapons last May.
When we rebooted Killer Instinct in 2013 for the launch of the Xbox One, we knew Thunder needed to be more culturally representative, and the Nez Percés were our partners in making that happen. However, the rush of launching a game during a console release, plus the pressure of maintaining a nostalgic look that KI fans remembered, meant we weren’t able to get everything right.
Now, with three seasons under our belts and a community of fans that embraces our game for the chances we take, we knew it was time to make things right. It was time to take care of the Nez Percé community that took care of us.
On behalf of Xbox and the entire Killer Instinct team at Microsoft Studios and Iron Galaxy, I am pleased to announce that the Legend of Thunder costume is available, free, to all Killer Instinct players today. You must own the Thunder base character to access the costume – it’s the first time we’ve had a third costume for our characters, and it’s a special one.
The Legend of Thunder costume is 100% authentic to the Nez Percé warrior tradition – from the new metal axes to the buckskin & beaded pants – and you can check out all the details in Rukari’s blog post over at ultra-combo.com.
The work that we’ve done is more than just a costume in a video game – Josiah tells us it is a positive step in the way indigenous people are portrayed in entertainment and a way to empower a new generation in their community. And for the Killer Instinct team, it’s just a small way of saying qe’ciyéw’yew’ (“thank you”) for not only inspiring us artistically but for letting us borrow and portray the vibrant Nez Percé culture.