October 13, 2008

More on Lautner the "Native"

'Twilight' Actor Taylor Lautner Is Eager To Deliver 'Naked' Line, Master Driving

Teen star also discusses his research on the Quileute tribe to play Native American character Jacob Black.MTV: Have you done any research on Native American culture?

Lautner: I actually had a meeting with Quileute tribal members yesterday! I interviewed them and just wanted to get to know them. One thing they do that I noticed is they don't need to be told to what to do. If the trash is getting full, they empty it out. They're always helping each other. They're always there for each other. So I just want to make sure I can bring that part of Jacob alive.

MTV: For a little while, the Twilighters were intent on having a Native American actor play Jacob.

Lautner: I know! And actually, I am part Native American. We learned that through [preparing for] this film. I'm French, Dutch and German, and on my mother's side, she has some Potawatomi and Ottawa Indian in her.
Comment:  This appears to be a fuller version of the interview I linked to in Non-Native Cast as Quileute Werewolf.

I don't think we should give the filmmakers any credit if they cast Lautner first and then discovered a trace of Native ancestry. They cast someone who they thought was non-Native because they didn't care about making the character authentic.

Thanks to correspondent DMarks for bringing this interview to my attention. He adds:I guess it is positive that he met with Quileutes. The claim of being Potawatomi and Odawa fits in with the Indians who are around here, some of whom are friends of mine. His father's family is from Traverse City (where I am) and his mother's family is from Manistee, where there is an Odawa reservation. That's about 60 miles south of here. Lautner is a common surname around here, and there are a couple of roads with the name too.

I know this does not really make him Indian. Just a white guy who has (?) some Indian ancestry, but nothing firm enough where it could be documented and he could be an enrolled member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, or the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians (the reservations in the counties where his family is from).
A white guy with some Indian ancestry...right you are, DMarks. I wouldn't be surprised if he had some black, Hispanic, or Asian ancestors too. But Indians? Let's say his Indian genes aren't dominant, to put it mildly.

For more on the subject, see Quileute Werewolves in Twilight.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aren't you impressed with his sensitive observation that Quileutes empty the trash before it gets full, though? What cultural acuity!

Anonymous said...

What exactly is your definition of Native American? It seems as though you are implying that Lautner is NOT Native American-enough, simply because he just recently discovered his ancestry. So what if he's only a small percentage Native American. He knows that now and he acknowledges his ancestry - does that not make him Native? For that matter, take someone who is, let's say...more than 50% Native American, but does not acknowledge their tribe/ancestry because they do not know enough about it. Are they not Native? Or if someone is a small percentage Native American (like Lautner himself), but he or she does in fact pay a tremendous amount of tribute/respect/attention/etc. to their ancestry - are they not Native because of their lack of ancestry? And also, if you want to be politically correct – I believe the correct term is in fact Native American, rather than “Indian.”

Anonymous said...

"I know this does not really make him Indian. Just a white guy who has (?) some Indian ancestry"

Just a white guy who has some Indian ancestry? Apparently, friend, you are neither Native American nor have even a remote understanding of what it IS to be Native American. There are so few Native Americans of pure blood left, that if we were to restrict the blood qualification to at least 1/4 Native American, we would be all but extinct. The Native American identity has become more of a mindset and philosophy than a genetic identity. It is your beliefs that make you Native American, not your blood. And the Native Americans have always welcomed the ethnically different into their fold.

As one Native American responded to my inquiry, "how do you know if you're enough Native American to be considered a Native American?"

"You know if you're Native American."

Rob said...

Your arguments fail because Lautner doesn't have any Native beliefs. For more on the subject, see Lautner Has a Native Mindset?

I Punched A Werewolf in the Face said...

So in order to be considered Native American you have to hold Native American beliefs?

While I don't disagree that people should be knowledgeable (at the very least) about their heritage...I can't say I agree with that either.

My family is parts African, French, & Native American..But I don't hold any beliefs that would be exclusive to either (that I'm aware of at least). Does that make me less of any of those?

*PAUSE*

I know this isn't about me but I don't understand "Lautner doesn't have any Native beliefs." This would make him culturally different, but it doesn't change his heritage.

Although I do give Summit the side eye for the rather convenient discovery.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but being "part" native doesn't make you native. Besides, it's always been about money, which is why some tribes (bands as we call it in Canada) have their self-defined blood quantum system. Some tribes will let you have membership even if you are 1/16 (keep in mind I wouldn't exactly call a glass of water wine if it only contained 1/16 merlot). This has to do with increasing tribe numbers, as with some tribes there were so few. Anyways, Lautner having "some" native in him doesn't justify calling him it at all. And another thing, but to the one who thinks there are no full bloods left; go to Canada and get laughed at for thinking you're native for having 1/16 in you.

Anonymous said...

(I was the guy with the most previous post) And to add something: Yes, there is indeed something as not Native enough. I could be a black man with 5% Japanese in me, but that will never make me Japanese, no matter how hard I try to understand the "cultural" way of being Japanese. I'd still be a black man.

dmarks said...

"Just a white guy who has some Indian ancestry? Apparently, friend, you are neither Native American nor have even a remote understanding of what it IS to be Native American."

This is directed at one of my comments, so I will answer. Lautner did not grow up on a rez, only came to know a Native community when filming "Twilight", and most importantly, he does not claim tribal affiliation, and no tribe claims him.

You are right: I am not Native American, nor do I claim to be. I leave the question of who is a Native American up to the tribes.

It looks like you are claiming that Lautner is a Native American, when Lautner himself does not.

"It is your beliefs that make you Native American, not your blood"

Now, this claim looks quite suspect, and out there. So, who defines beliefs? How are they checked? Are you thinking of some fantasy world where Native tribes have some sort of oath or pledge?

Are you sure you aren't thinking of the Catholic Church and their excommunication policy?

"The Native American identity has become more of a mindset and philosophy than a genetic identity."

More dubious claims. I have known many members of tribes, and they have diverse mindsets and philosophies. Are they in error? Do we need to send you in so you can kick out the fake Indians who don't think the way you want them to?

"And the Native Americans have always welcomed the ethnically different into their fold."

It's not the Catholic Church you are talking about now, but some form of the French Foreign Legion.