Sunday, December 06, 2009

Quileute elder on Quileute stories

Thanks to Miriam B. for letting me know about two newspaper articles in the Peninsula Daily News, published in Port Angeles, Washington. (For the not-Twilight fans, Port Angeles is one of the settings Meyer used in her Twilight saga.) I think both of these articles were published on November 29th.

First is "Twilight fiction doesn't always jibe with Quileute legend." In this article, Paige Dickerson (the reporter) talked with Chris Morganroth III (shown above) about Quileute stories. Here's some excerpts from the article:

The Quileute people are ready to embrace the fans and teach them the real legends -- which do not include the werewolves Meyer's books describe.

Though the legends about the origins of the Quileute people in the best-selling vampire books set in Forks and LaPush have some resemblance to the real stories -- they both involve wolves -- the tribe wants to make sure fans are aware of the rich reality of their true culture.
Dickerson talks a little about Twilight, but devotes most of her article to what Morganroth said about the origin of the Quileutes. Here's that excerpt:

Quileute beginnings

If you begin to look into the stories and how we got to be here, they go back to the beginnings of time.

Before that, Spirit beings could transform themselves into animals or people at will. There were even living beings in outer space, such as the sun. They called those people the fire sky people.

After some time, the Spirit beings had to choose what they would be and were no longer able to transform.

After this, K'wati came into the area of LaPush and found that there were no humans. He went to the mouth of the river and there were wolves, timber wolves.

Now these wolves always travel in pairs and they mate for life.

K'wati saw that there were no people in this area near LaPush. So he transformed that pair of wolves into the Quileute people.

K'wati is a supernatural figure in Quileute stories who transforms people or objects.

K'wati wasn't a "sorcerer" or "witch king," as Meyer's has it.

"He wasn't really a god, but a transformer -- he was put on Earth to make things better," Morganroth said.

Although Meyer's teen werewolves are not part of Quileute legends, she draws from the tribal connection to wolves.

Even in present times, the wolf is often referred to as a brother of the tribe, as is the orca -- which also is said to have descended from the wolf, Morganroth said.

The New Moon werewolves aren't your average, hairy-faced cross between a man and a wolf. The boys "phase" into bear-sized wolves with enough superpowers to kill vampires.

And they developed out of a need to protect the people of Forks and LaPush from vampires.

The Quileute have no such legend.

The second article, What did Jacob say to Bella?, begins by describing the Quileute response to that question. If you've seen New Moon, you know that Jacob says something to Bella in the Quileute language. Fans are determined to figure out what he said. The Quileute's won't say. The bulk of the article is about the premiere of the film, specifically, about the Quileute's who attended the premier in Los Angeles.  According to the newspaper article, they had a great time. What stands out to me is what Page Foster (a thirteen-year-old Quileute member who went to the premiere) experienced:

Foster said that her father, Tony Foster, who is on the tribal council, showed several his business card from the council.

"They were so shocked that he was the real deal," Foster said.

The fans were shocked. A telling statement! A telling statement that should motivate you to do all you can to teach children and teens in your schools and libraries that the Indigenous Peoples of the United States are very much "the real deal." Instead of myths and legends (many of which are deeply flawed), purchase books written by Native writers. See my list of recommended books, and another list I put together for School Library Journal last year.

My most recent post about Twilight  (We saw New Moon on Friday) includes several links, including one to the Quileute Nation's facebook page, essays on the Native content in the books, and links to my previous posts about the book.

I should note, too, that I do not recommend Meyer's books or the films. The Quileute's are doing what they can to make the best of the situation. So is the town of Forks. My friend, Jean Mendoza,visited Forks recently. She wasn't making a pilgrimage as a fan of Twilight. She was in the area to visit family. Jean sent me some notes and photos of her visit. They're going to be featured in my next post about Twilight.

If you want to read more on the ways that the Quileute's are portrayed in the series, look over to the right side of this page. Scroll up or down till you see the section labeled TWILIGHT SAGA. There you'll see several links to posts about the series.

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