September 05, 2010

Saving Grace the Choctaw

In the Yeehaw, Geepaw episode of Saving Grace, Bobby Stillwater (Gregory Cruz) mentions his Indian and Mexican halves. Stillwater could've been speaking figuratively, but let's take him literally. He's half Indian and half "Mexican." What does that mean?

Well, it could mean that he considers himself half Indian and half non-Indian. But he may understand that his "Mexican half" is also part Indian. Perhaps he considers himself three-quarters Indian (half American Indian, one-quarter Mexican Indian, and one-quarter Mexican non-Indian).

I mention this because Geepaw (August Schellenberg) says he's a quarter more Indian than Stillwater. If Stillwater is half Indian, that could mean Geepaw is three-quarters Indian. If Stillwater is three-quarters Indian, that could mean Geepaw is a full-blooded Indian.

The latter scenario would agree with online descriptions of Geepaw as Grace's full-blooded Indian grandfather. But again, this isn't clear from the episode itself. It's not even clear that Geepaw is Grace's real grandfather rather than an "honorary" grandfather.

Grace's Choctaw roots

But in the next episode, Everything's Got a Shelf Life (the eighth of the first season), things become a little clearer. Grace confronts a black informant about whether he's telling the truth. The informant says he wouldn't lie to her because "I'm Choctaw, you're Choctaw."

This confirms the supposition of the previous episode. Holly Hunter's character is indeed supposed to be part Choctaw. We can even estimate how much.

First, a couple of points. Grace refers to her grandmother, Geepaw's wife, as Meemaw. We don't know anything about her. She could be anything from full-blooded Choctaw to white.

Jessica Walter plays Grace's mother. She doesn't look or act the slightest bit Indian. Let's assume she's a pure Anglo, as she appears. Presumably Grace is connected to Geepaw and Meemaw through her father, who is dead.

How much "Indian" is she?

With these assumptions we can establish the boundaries of Grace's "blood." If Geepaw and Meemaw are full-blooded Choctaws, then so is her father. That would make Grace half Choctaw by blood.

On the other hand, if Geepaw is three-quarters Choctaw and Meemaw is white, then Grace's father is 3/8 Choctaw. That would make Grace 3/16 Choctaw by blood.

So Grace could be anywhere from 3/16 to half Choctaw. Actress Holly Hunter doesn't look much like an Indian, so perhaps the lower estimate is more realistic. In any case, that may be enough "blood" for her to be an enrolled member of the Choctaw tribe.

In fact, Grace may be an enrolled Choctaw. In the first eight episodes, she hasn't said anything to preclude this possibility. No references to Indians as "them" rather than "us," for instance.

A cast of Choctaws?

The same would apply to Grace's five or six siblings. None of them looks the slightest bit Indian either. But unless they're half-brothers and sisters, they're all 3/16 to half Choctaw.

Perhaps this point will become clear in future episodes. I just think it's interesting that Grace could be an enrolled Choctaw Indian. If true, this would be a remarkable case: a lead character who's an Indian but nobody realizes it.

For more on the subject, see Yeehaw, Geepaw in Saving Grace and Gregory Cruz in Saving Grace.

Below:  Grace Hanadarko the blonde Choctaw Indian?

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