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The Real Quileute Tribe Featured in Twilight Are Happy to Be in the Spotlight So They Can Dispel the Werewolf Thing

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One thing that Twilight did that wasn’t all that bad was put the spotlight on a Native American tribe from the Pacific Northwest, the Quileute tribe. For those of us who are not Twi-hards, that is the tribe from which Jacob (Taylor Lautner) is descended. The shirtless guy who turns into a werewolf. While the Quileute tribe are happy to be in the spotlight, they would like to take this opportunity to provide everyone with some actual facts about their tribe and beliefs in the form of an exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. For starters: they wear shirts. Sorry.

As much fun as it is for some, this is actually not a Twilight-bashing post. And the Quileute tribe are actually not offended by their fictionalized selves, but now that people know who they are, they are setting the record straight on the whole “wolf” thing.

Starting this Friday, January 13, “Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves” will open at the Sealaska Gallery on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., located inside the National Museum of the American Indian. The 23 works of Quileute art will provide a view of what the tribe really believes, and debunk the elaborate history that Stephanie Meyer came up with for her vampire love story. (“A” for effort, though.)

While Meyer described a tribe that believed in shapeshifting, werewolves, and a steady supply of denim shorts, the wolf-related legend goes all the way back to the beginnings of the tribe’s mythology. Only the first two Quileute people were transformed into humans from wolves. Since then, there is a lot of wolf imagery in tribal legend and art, but no one actually changes into wolves or vice versa. The tribe does, however, continue to honor the original wolves to this day.

“We welcome any opportunity we have to educate the world about the true story of the Quileute people,” said Chairwoman Bonita Cleveland. “The Quileute Tribal Council decided to take the global spotlight and attention we have received as a result of the Twilight phenomenon and share with the global audience our history, culture and traditions.

Along with the artwork, part of the exhibit is a 12-minute video (which will play continuously) featuring members of the tribe — some of them teenagers — and their reaction to the Twilight series and how it’s affected them. There will also be some replicas of Quileute-inspired props from the movies, which you’ll be able to compare to actual tribal accessories in the exhibit.

It actually is a pretty great thing that attention has been paid to the Quileute tribe. The cultures of many Native American tribes are gradually disappearing. Right now, there are only two fluent speakers of the Quileute language (one of them, Chris Morganroth III, will be at the museum to tell traditional tribal stories). And surely, there is a huge new audience familiar with an ancient culture that is trying to survive. Albeit a squeeing one.

“Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves” will run through May 9.

(via Washington Post)

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