October 25, 2008

Who rules the Quileutes?

Quileute Tribal CouncilThe Quileute Tribal Council is the governing body of the Quileute Tribe, per Article III of its Constitution. It consists of five elected members, each of whom serves staggered three-year terms. From within, the elected members select a Chair, a Vice-Chair, a Secretary, and a Treasurer. Other officers and committees may be appointed as needed. Council seats up for election are voted upon in a General Council meeting of enrolled members, each January. Besides the Constitution, by-laws and ordinances Quileute Tribal Council provide additional direction on tribal governance. The Quileute Tribe is a federally recognized Indian Tribe of 700 enrolled members (as of 3/1/2005). Headquarters are in La Push, Washington.Comment:  According to the Twilight series, the alpha wolf of the 14-or-so-members pack leads the Quileute tribe. Presumably this wolf leader is always a male.

I'm not sure if the other 736 Quileutes go along with the idea of a wolf's leading them. Perhaps they don't know about it.

What if a non-wolf dares to challenge the alpha wolf for election to the tribal council? Does the wolf pack intimate the non-wolf, hunt him down, and force him to withdraw from the race? Or what, exactly?

How does being a wolf qualify the Quileute leader to deal with the complex issues of running a government, operating businesses, negotiating with state and federal authorities, etc.?

Oddly, three of the five council members at present, including chairperson Carol Hatch, are women. Do the wolves know about this? What are they doing to ensure their leadership role? Is Hatch's job or life in danger? Has she been hearing scratching noises or growls outside her door at night?

I could go on, but I trust you get the idea. It's a stereotype that a tribe is such a simple entity--perhaps like a Boy Scout troop--that the strongest or bravest "wolf" could lead it. Actually, Quileute voters probably favor the same qualities as everyone else in their leaders: intelligence, education, experience, short-term plans, a long-term vision, etc.

Below:  Non-wolves threaten the wolves' control of the Quileute Nation.

10 comments:

dmarks said...

"It's a stereotype that a tribe is such a simple entity--perhaps like a Boy Scout troop--that the strongest or bravest "wolf" could lead it"

Actually, there is a schism in the packs in the "Twilight" novels, resulting in two separate wolf packs.

And the true "alpha" wolf is not the strongest/bravest: it is actually a hereditary position.

Rob said...

Okay, two wolf packs...but the Quileute leader is still a wolf, right?

The "alpha" term refers to the strongest or bravest--i.e., the dominant--individual. In a real wolf pack, I'm pretty sure this position is earned rather than inherited.

Would Twilight's wolf packs let a weak, cowardly wolf lead them? Somehow I doubt it.

Rulers get hereditary positions in the first place because they're strong or brave. Their followers assume the rulers' children are also strong or brave.

If they're not, they tend to get replaced, even if they have a hereditary right to the position. So maintaining such a position often depends on being strong or brave.

imprinted said...

No the tribe's leader is not a wolf. The quileute tribe is lead by the elder council in real life as well as in fiction. I think you're geting the tribe and the pack mixed up. The counsil of elders lead the tribe, and Jacob and Sam lead the packs, who obey the elders and prtect the tribe.

dmarks said...

Imprinted: I checked. The leader of the whole tribe (as well as the pack) is a "wolf". This is in Eclipse, during the discussion of whether it is Sam or Jacob is who is chief of the "whole tribe":

“Didn’t you say that Ephraim Black was the last chief the Quileutes had?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Because he was the Alpha. Did you know that, technically, Sam’s the chief of the
whole tribe now?” He laughed. “Crazy traditions.”
I thought about that for a second, trying to make all the pieces fit. “But you also said that people listened
to your dad more than anyone else on the council, because he was Ephraim’s grandson?”
“What about it?”
“Well, if it’s about the lineage . . . shouldn’t you be the chief, then?”
Jacob didn’t answer me. He stared into the darkening forest, as if he suddenly needed to concentrate on
where he was going.


In the "Twilight" books, it is not a question at all that the alpha wolf is supposed to be chief of the whole tribe.

Rob said...

Thanks for straightening that out, DMarks. Your position seems unassailable. Ephraim Black was chief...because he was the alpha wolf. In other words, a Quileute becomes chief by being a wolf.

Anonymous said...

@Rob
"In other words, a Quileute becomes chief by being a wolf."

This is from a story of fiction. From the perspective of a teenage, non-Quileute girl. Discussing the hierarchy of leadership with a Quileute boy (a couple years younger than she is) who doesn't really pay attention to this sort of thing anyway.

So the knowledge we get as a reader is taken not as FACT, but as hearsay "Oh, Jacob Black told me that the Alpha Wolfe becomes Chief."

And besides, it was suggested throughout the 4 books that the Wolfe trait in this particular Quileute tribe only comes out when Vampires are around. And when that happens the 'Alpha' wolfe is the leader during 'time of war' (when vampires are around). He still has the council for wisdom but during times of vampires, he's the Commander and Chief.

Anonymous said...

i <3 twilight!!!!!!!!!!!! =D

Anonymous said...

i <3 twilight!!!!!!!!!!!! =D

dmarks said...

@Anon: "From the perspective of a teenage, non-Quileute girl."

Actually, these are specific quotes from Jacob, a Quileute character.

"Discussing the hierarchy of leadership with a Quileute boy (a couple years younger than she is) who doesn't really pay attention to this sort of thing anyway."

That doesn't fit in with the rest of the whole thing with unveiling the Quileute wolves, in which things are suspected, and they end up turning out to be true.

"So the knowledge we get as a reader is taken not as FACT, but as hearsay "Oh, Jacob Black told me that the Alpha Wolfe becomes Chief.""

It is presented in the book as a specific quote from Jacob. Again, he specifically says "Yeah, that’s right. Because he was the Alpha. Did you know that, technically, Sam’s the chief of the
whole tribe now?” This is not hearsay, not from another character, and seems unequivocal.

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right about Jacob explaining to Bella that Sam is the chief of the tribe because he's the pack leader.

It's also even more clear when tied to an earlier quote, where Jacob is talking about how his great-grandfather (the alpha from the last pack) was the last Quileute chief, but that his father, Billy gets a lot of respect because of that.

Also, all of the elders in the story are desendants of the previous pack members. They may not BE wolves, but they carry the gene, it was just dormant because there were no vampires in the vicinity.

I'm appreciating your blogs on the treatment of Natives in Twilight. Although I am not Native, I wondered how it struck people -- Native in general, Quiluetes more specifically.