Native American Indians are often called first Americans for obvious reasons. However, despite their status as the first nation in America, native American Indians often get the raw end of the deal. This is also true in the entertainment arena, such as films, television, music, and theater. Nonetheless, first Americans are as talented as any other race, if not more in some cases. That is why many people and organizations strive to promote American Indian participation in show business, and firstamericans.org also strives to raise awareness about that struggle. Some native American actors and Native American actresses have already been trailblazers, and others hope to follow in their footsteps.
About the Inuit Tribe
Inuit Indians, as well as many of the other Indian tribes, are underrepresented in Hollywood to a very big extent but there are a few actors with Inuit ancestry including Paul Brasseur. Paul Andre Brasseur is a part native American actor from Inuit ancestry who was born in Montreal in 1994. Inuit Indian tribes have much history and distinctive styles of building homes and making clothing that is considered distinct from other Native American Indian tribes by many. Inuit Indians were located in the Arctic region of North America so within America they would be located in Alaska. The artic region stretches from the Bering Strait to the country of Greenland and this is about a 5000-mile distance. This is a harsh climate for anyone to live in because the temperatures in this region can drop to below -40 degrees Fahrenheit and this is a temperature that can cause a number of problems in terms of using utilities and maintaining water supplies but the Inuit tribes managed well.
The Inuit tribe made their homes from earth and stone and also placed them partially underground because of the harsh weather they endured often enough. Inuit Indian tribes are known for their skill in making warm clothing from Caribou skin and Sealskin in the summer months. These materials suited the Inuit Tribe well because they were comfortable and lightweight as well. Clothing that they made were also made of other materials such as Oxen and polar bears as well as birds. Women most often made these clothes with bones for needles and gut thread. Both sexes of the Inuit Tribe wore tunics that were hooded and trousers over their long boots but the women’s tunics were often larger than the men’s in order to carry babies inside and keep them close to the mothers.
Cherokee Indian Tribe
The Cherokee Indians is a well-known tribe that many actors and actresses claim to be a part of. One part American Indian actor in particular that has been tied to having Cherokee roots is Burt Reynolds. There is a lot of information that has been found relating to the Cherokee tribe throughout history including their behaviors and habits that may be different from other Indian tribes that will be discussed here. The Cherokee Indian tribes lived in the southern Appalachian mountains as well as its valleys. From here they have moved all over the US especially in the areas of present-day North Carolina and South Carolina as well as Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama.
The tribe also lived in villages that were found along riverbanks for easy access to water which is essential for all human survival. The villages that they lived in each contained a council house that was big and circular as well as windowless and often built on top of a mound. The walls of this council house were often made of saplings that were woven together and plastered with mud. In addition to this, the Cherokee would move from a rectangular shaped wooden house in the winter into a small round mud house. The Cherokee was skilled at many things especially hunting and making benches for their homes.
In terms of the clothing that the Cherokee Indians wore these were often made of deerskin and plants which were woven together into short skirts for the women and breechcloths leggings and moccasins for the men. In the winter the Indian tribes wore capes in order to keep warm and to keep out the cold winter air. The capes were worn over the left shoulder and were made of either fur from a rabbit or turkey feathers. Men were also often seen to paint and tattoo many parts of their bodies.
The Navajo Indians are well known in the US and other countries and are often portrayed on the big screen but not by real Navajo Indians until recently. The Navajo Indian actor Roger Willie is a part of this tribe and surprisingly played an actual Navajo Indian in the film Windtalkers in 2002. The movie was directed by John Woo and was about the acts of native Americans in terms of volunteering for the WWII war effort. The Navajo Indians played the role of code talkers in the war and in the movie which is very curious because they were driven from their lands by the same country that they were fighting for in this conflict. The Navajo Indians were dwellers of the four sacred mountains in Navajo country and were forced to leave this area less than 80 years before WWII. Many Navajos volunteered to be marines in the war and were very patriotic for doing so. They were secret weapons in the Pacific campaign that the US was a part of. The job of these Indians was to send and translate messages in their native tongue as the Japanese that the US was fighting against were often fluent in English and could easily intercept and break the codes of the US. The efforts of these Navajo Indians led the US to victory in the Pacific campaign by ensuring that the Japanese did not tap into any information sent or received by the US leading to the capturing of Japanese strongholds.
Roger Willie played the part of Charlie Whitehorse in the Movie Windtalkers but almost never even auditioned for the part. He was convinced by two of his nephews to try out for the role and was making a living as a freelance artist when the audition was brought to his attention. He worked tirelessly after being cast to get his part correct and to ensure that he knew the ins and outs of code talking through working with a consultant by the name of Albert Smith.
The Plain Indians
Native American actor Kalani Queypo is part of the tribe of the Blackfoot Indians but what is not known to many about this Indian tribe is that the tribe was also a part of a bigger category of Indian tribes referred to as the Plain Indians. The Plain Indians includes many important tribes of Indians including the Sioux and Comanche Indian tribes. One other Indian tribe, in particular, that is very famous in the US in the Blackfoot tribe. These tribes of Indians lived in a vast area spanning from the Mississippi River towards the Rocky Mountain area. In terms of weather conditions in this area, it could get as hot as 100 degrees or more in the summertime and could be as cold as more than 40 below in the winter including heavy snow. The Plain Indians hunted various animals in order to make clothing that could adapt to these vast weather changes. In addition to this when it rained on the plains they could often flood because of the dryness of the land and few Indians lived on the actual plains of the area until Europeans brought horses to America. The plain Indians usually lived on the mountains and grasslands before this.
In regards to the homes that these tribes lived in, they were located in villages and made of the earth for the most part. Few Indians lived far away from a water source such as a river or stream until the mode of transportation found with horses arose when Europeans came to the Americas. On occasions, they would also build wigwams that protected a teepee from rotting. The wigwam also stored food for the Indian tribes. In addition to this, the tribes had little furniture and most of their beds were made of buffalo skins with the hair still left on them. These are popularly called buffalo robes.
There were many different Native American Indian tribes in America before the years when the pilgrims settled in America and one of the most interesting and well-known tribes in the history of Native American Indian tribes is the Blackfoot Tribe. The Blackfoot tribe originally was only comprised of one nation but over the years they have grown to include four distinct nations that all share a common historical background and cultural background. The official language of the Blackfoot tribes is Algonquian and many other Indian tribe names speak this language as well. There are about 8000 people who speak this language in Alberta and north Montana which is an interesting thing to note as this language has been spoken for centuries and has not changed very much since its incorporation into the Indian nation. The two main dialects of the language are Pikanii and Siksika Blackfoot. Many children in the state of Montana are learning both of these dialects and many have incorporated a new take on the language.
The downfall of the once very prosperous Blackfoot population occurred with the arrival of Europeans and with them the smallpox epidemic. The Blackfoot tribes were very pleased at first with the arrival of the Europeans because of the horses that they brought with them on their boats. These horses were very valuable to the buffalo hunters that the Blackfoot people kept in the ranks. The smallpox epidemic ravished the population and in some peoples opinion, this was helped by the European settlers who sold infected blankets to the Blackfoot tribe. In addition to this, the American army killed many of the people of the Blackfoot nation in the mid-1800s and beyond. This is one of the main causes of the people’s downfall and the Blackfoot nation would never recover from this to this day. Today there is at least one actor with a Blackfoot background and his name is Kalani Queypo. He is known for his roles in movies such as the Juror and the royal Tenenbaums in 2001.
The Pueblo Indians
Pueblo Indian Actors are not known in mainstream movies but the Pueblo Indian culture still remains strong in some parts of the US including New Mexico and Utah. Pueblo Indians are from a strong cultural heritage that has been seen on screen through a few movies. Though there are no known Pueblo Indian actors the movie Acoma was based on this heritage and tells the story of the pueblo Indians well. There is much to be learned about the Pueblo Indians such as their area of inhabitation and the kind of homes that they live in that will be discussed here.
The Native American tribe called the Pueblo Indian tribe was most often located in villages that were near the rivers of the Southwest. The area that they inhabited in the past and also the area that some inhabit now is known as Texas, Utah, New Mexico, and California as well as parts of Colorado. This land varies between the steep-walled canyons and the sandy deserts in addition to some plateaus that are present here. Days in the area that the Pueblo Native Americans lived in were often very hot with very cold nights as well. Rain in this area was scare and this is a reason why the Pueblos preferred to live near rivers and streams such as the Rio Grande and the Gila and Salt rivers. The rainy season only lasts 6 weeks in these areas in addition to this.
Pueblo Indians were a native American tribe that only slept in caves that were not man-made and on cliffs for the early part of their history. They also built homes out of sand and adobe and placed them next to rivers. An interesting fact about this Indian tribe is that the homes were almost exclusively owned by women.
Native American actor Victor Aaron was a member of the Indian tribe the Yaqui Indians and has played in a few films but was more well known for his voice-over of the character John RedCorn on the popular series King of the Hill. Victor Aaron died on September 4th, 1996 and was remembered in an episode of the King of the Hill show after he was killed tragically in a road accident one week before his birthday. He would have been 40 years old. Though this actor has passed away the memory of his people still lives on and members of the Yaqui tribe are thriving in the state of Arizona. The Yaqui Indian tribes originally lived in the valley of Rio Yaqui.
This valley is located in the state called Sonora in Mexico and many Yaqui Indians still inhabit this part of Mexico to this day but some have migrated to Arizona because of conflict between the Mexican government and the Yaqui Indian Tribes. The Yaqui is a popular name for these native Americans but they in fact call themselves Yoreme which means people. The language that these native Americans speak is part of the 30 languages in the Uto Aztecan family and it has been used in this tribe for many generations. These native American peoples also refer to their homeland in Mexico as Hiakin which many think that the work Yaqui comes from. They also describe the tribe as the Hiaki Nation or Pascua Hiaki which means Easter People.
The Yaqui peoples mainly subsisted by growing corn and squash as well as beans as agriculture is the main way that these people made a living. Some of the Yaqui fished in addition to farming and some also hunted. These people are renowned for being warriors and they were very skilled at their craft. The Yaqui are also described as predominately tall in stature throughout history hence the tall stature of the character that native American actor victor Aaron played in the tv show King of the Hill.
America’s Great Indian Nations – Full-Length Documentary