Outlander has spent five seasons now recreating the 18th century to tell Claire and Jamie’s stories in the distant past, but a big change came to the show when Season 4 saw the Frasers settling in what were then the American Colonies. Outlander itself was (and is) still filmed in Scotland, which raised the question of how the show could feature distinctly North American cultures and locations while filming was happening across the pond. Book readers in particular had reason to wonder how the show would handle scenes involving the Mohawk. According to one Outlander director, the show went to great effort and “expense” to recreate the Mohawk village.
Prolific television director Mairzee Almas, also known for shows like Shadow and Bone and Jessica Jones, helmed a key episode of Outlander Season 4. Called “Providence,” the episode featured a significant number of Mohawk characters with scenes set in the Mohawk village that was an irreplaceable part of Roger’s story, and eventually Young Ian’s. I was able to speak with Almas about her work on Outlander, and she shared what it was like to not only recreate the 18th century, but to recreate an 18th century Native American village while filming in Scotland. Almas explained:
We built a whole Mohawk village. It was amazing. Because Outlander did not want anybody non-indigenous North American to play an indigenous North American, they literally brought in 100 people from Canada and a little bit from the United States as well. They weren’t all of the Mohawk nation, but they were all indigenous people. And they brought a hundred of them to Scotland to play the Mohawk people. And it was so respectfully done, so beautifully done. We had a couple of Mohawk elder women that helped us to be true to what the village would look like, what kind of crafts or arts or hunting, how the people lived… and all of that kind of stuff.
It may have looked like Outlander was filming the scenes involving the Mohawk people and their village in North America, but the show went to considerable lengths to bring everything to Scotland to create something authentic despite the distance. As a result, viewers will undoubtedly remember that the series was able to showcase a full area occupied by plenty of indigenous people playing the Mohawk to really give the sense that Roger was being held in a real location rather than small sets.
Of course, there is more to Outlander’s blasts to the past than just creating the sets, even when those sets and settings are elaborate. Director Mairzee Almas explained how Outlander rounded out the process of delivering “the integrity” of an 18th-century Mohawk village and people:
And then all of the hundred people that came to Scotland to work on it, we gave them a boot camp. So they had a Mohawk boot camp for like a week. It was awesome. And, you know, the expense for that was massive, but it was so well done and so smart and so respectful. It was truly a joy to work on Outlander. Karen Campbell was my writer for my particular episode. But, you know, with [executive producers] Maril Davis and Matt Roberts, those guys just did such a fantastic job of making sure that the integrity was totally taken care of. And what a great episode, so much fun.
The episode wasn’t a whole lot of fun from a story perspective for Roger in the Mohawk village, but it was definitely an hour of television for viewers to enjoy. Outlander has continued to recreate the American landscape and culture in Scotland as the seasons have passed, with Fraser’s Ridge located in North Carolina and the Revolutionary War just years away from changing everything in the show.
Young Ian’s return to his family at the Ridge may mean that Outlander is done with any Mohawk story for the foreseeable future, but the village certainly stands as one of the most memorable locations since the Frasers made the move across the ocean and Scotland had to start doubling as Colonial-era America. As for when Outlander will return, Starz has yet to announce a premiere date, but production is underway, so it’s likely that Season 6 will arrive in late 2021 at the earliest or in 2022.