xvi Introduction My first book, Making the White Man’s Indian: Native Americans and Hol- lywood Movies (2005), had drawn on studio correspondence, screenplay drafts, and filmmakers’ interviews to reveal how and why Hollywood cre- ated its Indian characters. Here I will explore the other side of the issue: how the heritage and behind-the-scenes activities of Hollywood’s Native American artists helped shape their own movie images. My focus, how- ever, is not so much how one specific tribal heritage has shaped a per- former’s movie identity. (Exceptions do occur in which artists have drawn on their own tribal culture.) Rather, I believe that a “pan-Indian heritage” applies to all tribes in which Native people share common roots in a spiri- tuality, anger from historical trauma, respect for elders, a version of cere- mony and storytelling, and attitudes toward poverty and discrimination.4 As Alaska Native actor Martin Sensmeier pointed out, similar values exist among all tribes. “Of course our rituals and ceremonies and stuff like that are different,” he explained, “but culturally, we connect.”5 These shared traditions, along with the Native artists’ own skills and training, have helped to shape a larger cultural movie identity. This book’s seven chapters highlight prominent Native North Ameri- can actors and filmmakers in Hollywood from the silent film era of the early 1900s to the present. Each chapter focuses on Native actors in lead or supporting roles as well as filmmakers whose movies were financed and distributed by Hollywood studios. As a former contributing writer for Indian Country Today (an online newspaper serving Indigenous communi- ties), I was fortunate to have the opportunity to interview several Native American performers and filmmakers and have included my conversa- tions with them.6 The first four chapters discuss notable Native American performers and draw attention to their lesser known contributions. James Young Deer was head of Pathé West Coast Studio, and his silent one- and two-reel shorts literally upended traditional Indian/white stories (chapter 1). By the time feature films emerged, Will Rogers had become one of the most prolific of Hollywood’s Native American actors—he actu- ally starred in over 70 movies—and his Cherokee heritage helped shape many of his roles in non-Westerns (chapter 2). Subsequent chapters reveal the importance of Native contributions during an era of growing Indian activism. Canadian Mohawk actor Jay Silverheels, for example, was best remembered as the Lone Ranger’s “loyal Indian companion” Tonto, but few are aware that his behind-the-scenes work with Native actors began to lay the foundation for Indian activism in Hollywood (chapter 3). A decade later, Chief Dan George (Tsleil-Waututh) was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his portrayal of Old Lodge Skins in Little Big Man (1970). His character embodied a kind of sixties individualism whose non-conformity and
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