September 04, 2011

Gavin MacLeod, Chippewa?

Someone named Shawn Lealos posted a list of 10 Native American Movie Stars. Among the dubious claimants were Benjamin Bratt and Anthony Quinn (Latinos) and Taylor Lautner (white with a bit of Indian blood). But the strangest one was Gavin MacLeod:Gavin MacLeod is best known for his role as Captain Merrill Stubing on the classic television series “The Love Boat.” The Native American movie star is a Chippewa Indian who appeared in movies such as “Operation Petticoat” and “Kelly’s Heroes.”MacLeod's Wikipedia entry confirms the basic fact, if not the alleged identity:Born Allan George See in Mount Kisco, New York, the oldest of two children, born to Margaret (née Shea) See (1906-2004), who was a middle school dropout, who in turn worked for Reader's Digest. He grew up in Pleasantville and studied acting at Ithaca College, graduating in 1952. His father, George See (1906-1945), a gas station attendant, was a Chippewa (Ojibwa).Comment:  We'd have to know more about George See before we could call MacLeod an Indian. Assuming Wikipedia is correct, was he an enrolled member of a Chippewa tribe? How much Chippewa blood did he have: 100%? 50%? 25%? Less? Or was he only someone with an undocumented Chippewa "princess" in his background?

If See was an enrolled member, or at least half Chippewa by blood, MacLeod might well be a legitimate Indian. But if See was only 1/4 or 1/8 Chippewa, then probably not. None of the postings I scanned addressed this crucial point.

Unless Lealos knows MacLeod's genealogy, he can't call MacLeod a "Native American movie star" or a "Chippewa Indian." As always, having a small amount of Indian blood doesn't make one an Indian. And Lealos can't call MacLeod a movie star in any case. MacLeod never had a starring movie role and earned most of his fame in TV.

For more on identity issues, see The Myth of Churchill's Iroquois Ancestors and Churchill and Clinton Are Cherokee?


Anonymous said...

There's nothing dubious about benjamin Bratt's claim. Bratt is half Quechua. His mother was (is? not sure) an outspoken Native American activist who took part in the occupation of Alcatraz.

dmarks said...

And Bratt himself is involved in Native causes. Anon's claim checks out.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but Lautner's doesn't. No big shock there.

dmarks said...

What is Taylor Lautner's claim that doesn't check out? I've been watching this pretty closely, but must have missed this one.