xx Introduction Hollywood has a long history of performers who have assumed ethnic identities, Native American or otherwise. Russian actress/dancer/costume designer Natacha Rambova (1897–1966), Rudolph Valentino’s second wife, was actually Winifred Kimball Shaughnessy from Salt Lake City. Latin lover Ricardo Cortez (1900–1977) was Jewish actor Jacob Kranze from New York City. Others have been known to change their names to reflect a Native American identity: in 2001, Pete S. Choi filed a name change peti- tion to assume his new identity as Pete Red Sky.13The important issue here is that non-Indians who pass as Indians deny opportunities to those who are of Native American heritage.14 These concerns are understandable: The Native American population has no superstars, and their numbers are far fewer than Latinos or Black Americans in the movie industry.15 Nonetheless, Hollywood happily plays along with the illusion as long as the industry senses a financial or public relations benefit. Italian- American actor Iron Eyes Cody (1904–1999) not only passed as Cherokee but also established himself as a spokesperson for Native American “authenticity” behind the scenes.16 Studio publicity boasted that Charles “Charlie” Stevens (1893–1964), an actor of mostly minor roles in over two hundred films, was the grandson of Geronimo. Stevens was actually born to a white Arizona sheriff and a Mexican mother, none of whom had Apache heritage.17 Similarly, newspapers promoted actor Nino Cochise (ca. 1892–1984) as the grandson of Cochise.18 Records instead show that Cochise filed for at least three different social security numbers, each under a separate name.19 Given the confusing and murky history of these artists, I have aimed to make a sincere attempt to identify Native Ameri- cans with membership in a federal- or state-recognized tribe and briefly clarify those who have earned a rightful place in film history but are “self-identified.” Finally, a recent event has helped me to understand the contributions of Native American artists in Hollywood. Native actress Kimberly Guer- rero, whom I have known for almost 25 years, was one of several panelists during a Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists town hall in Los Angeles. That evening, Native American artists had met with members of the Casting Society of America to dis- cuss inclusion and diversity. Guerrero told the audience of more than one hundred that Native performers bring a tradition of storytelling to their roles but also generations of a historical trauma. These actors not only share a lived experience, she said, “but can feel it.”20 My hope is that this book captures their unique experience in the motion picture industry
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