July 26, 2012

Mouseketeer had Snoqualmie roots

Ginny Tyler, Mouseketeer, Dies at 86

By William YardleyGinny Tyler, a Head Mouseketeer in the syndicated version of the “The Mickey Mouse Club” of the 1960s and a voice actor who shifted from Snow White to Cinderella to Bambi on recordings as a Disneyland Storyteller, died on July 13 at a nursing home in Issaquah, Wash. She was 86.

Her death was confirmed by her son, Ty Fenton.

Ms. Tyler, who traced her lineage to the Snoqualmie Tribe of the Puget Sound region, learned to tell stories and simulate animal sounds as a child from listening to her mother, who could play the organ while whistling bird calls. She became a Mouseketeer as an adult. After graduating from the University of Washington, she played Mother Goose on a children’s show on KOMO-TV in Seattle in the early 1950s.

Later in the decade she moved to Hollywood l and quickly found work reading Disney stories for LP recordings as a Disneyland Storyteller and then a Mousketeer.
Ginny Tyler dies at 86; voice actress was Disney legend

The former Mouseketeer had a penchant for storytelling and the ability to mimic animal sounds. Her voice was featured in 'The Sword in the Stone' and 'Mary Poppins.'

By Valerie J. Nelson
From an early age, Tyler "could change my voice at a click of a finger," she told the Issaquah Press in 2010.

In official Disney accounts, her penchant for storytelling and ability to mimic animal sounds was traced to her Native American roots. An ancestor, who was a chief of the Snoqualmie Tribe, traded his two young daughters to a white woman for a piece of property after his wife left him, according to her son. One of the girls was her great-grandmother.

Tyler's talent for animal sounds was probably handed down by her mother, Harriett, a performer who studied bird calls at a school in Los Angeles and incorporated them into her organ-playing and singing, Fenton said.

For the Record

Ginny Tyler: The obituary of voice actress Ginny Tyler in the July 23 LATExtra section said that an ancestor who was a chief of the Snoqualmie tribe traded his two young daughters to a white woman for a piece of property after his wife left him. The girls were the chief's granddaughters. Their mother was the chief's daughter; after she left the girls' father, he handed his daughters over to the white woman, along with a piece of property, to help provide for their care. One of the girls was Tyler's great-grandmother.
Comment:  So Tyler traced her ancestry to the Snoqualmie tribe, but she probably wasn't a member of it. Disney traced her storytelling and mimickry talents to the tribe, but Tyler didn't necessarily claim this sources.

The articles also say Tyler's mother was the real source of these abilities. But it's not clear if the mother was in the same line of descent. Tyler could've been Snoqualmie on her father's side.

Also curious is how the Snoqualmie chief went from sounding cold and callous in the original to warm and supportive in the correction. It's a small but telling example of how easy it is to misrepresent another culture. How many millions of times have we labeled Indians "cruel" because they did something we didn't understand?

For more on Indians and Disney, see Artist Reimagines Disney's Pocahontas and Lone Ranger Movie Rides Again.

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