May 09, 2010

Graywolf gave Chumash hairpin to Depp

Protector of his people

Curator of T.O. museum works to better lives, understanding

By Brett Johnson
Graywolf moves freely between two worlds despite the stark disparities, tough history and all the blood that’s been shed between them.

In one, Graywolf is an entertainer, an Emmy-nominated costume designer and actor who made the Chumash bone hairpin that Johnny Depp wore in all three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies. He’s a guitarist who won a Native American Music Association award last year and has played such legendary L.A. clubs as the Whisky A Go-Go and the Troubadour. He’s no stranger to limo rides but also worked for 37 years at Ralphs grocery stores.

Graywolf also is curator at the Chumash Indian Museum and tour guide for the nearby Chumash Interpretive Center in eastern Thousand Oaks. His ancestry is of the Yoeme (or Yaqui) tribe of southern Arizona and Mexico, but he has Chumash in-laws.
At the Chumash Museum:The Chumash word for such tar sounds like Pismo, as in Pismo Beach, he noted. Similarly, local terms such as Malibu, Mugu and Saticoy all come from Chumash language, as does Ojai, taken from a Chumash word for moon.

Graywolf was engaging; the kids clearly took to him. They raised hands en masse and bombarded him with questions about Chumash ways and the wild animals found at the Chumash site.

He showed them the Chumash hairpin, made of deer bone, that Depp wore in the “Pirates” films. He also explained how he “killed” a mammoth on “Prehistoric,” a Discovery Channel program that aired in March. He stabbed at a blue screen; they added in the mammoth later.
And:He and Panther, a longtime actor (who also goes by Alfred Mazza) in New York before he moved to the West Coast, are veterans of Discovery programs, as well as History Channel shows such as “Wild West Tech,” “Comanche Warriors” and “Decoding the Past: Presidential Prophecies.”

They were nominated for an Emmy (along with Jeanine Wiest) in 2005 for costume design for “Conquest of America,” a History Channel miniseries about Spaniard Francisco Coronado’s explorations in the American Southwest.

Graywolf and Panther did the Native American props for the film “Hidalgo,” which starred Viggo Mortensen, and a movie called “A Light in the Darkness” with Karen Black.

On “Pirates,” they got to meet Depp for the final costume fitting, and were surprised he decided to wear the Chumash hairpin. One of the hairpins was given to Rolling Stone Keith Richards, who played Depp’s character’s dad in the most recent “Pirates” film.
Comment:  Interesting study of an Indian who goes from being an activist to an entertainer to an educator. A lot of "Hollywood" Indians are like that.

I'm glad to see there was a little Native participation in the Pirates movies. But the Chumash had nothing to do with Caribbean Indians, of course. And the bone hairpin did nothing to counteract the sequel's depiction of murderous cannibals.

For another story on a Chumash educator, see Students Can't Overcome Stereotypes. For more on the moviemaking aspects, see Pirates of the Caribbean and The Best Indian Movies.

Below:  "Graywolf shows visiting schoolchildren a Chumash hairpin made of deer bone, similar to the one he made for Johnny Depp for his role in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies."

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