Everybody Getting Rich Off ‘Twilight’ But Tribe

The second ‘Twilight’ film, New Moon, has made millions upon millions of dollars for Hollywood. Author Stephenie Meyer hasn’t made out so badly either.

But, as a Feb. 7 New York Times Op-Ed piece points out, there is one group that hasn’t raked in the New Moon moola: the Quileute Nation of the Pacific Northwest. They’re “the Indians whose (fictional) ancient treaty transforms young males of the tribe into vampire-fighting wolves.” Turns out there’s all sort of products inspired by the ersatz Quileute, but the real tribe doesn’t see a dime from any of it.

In “Sucking the Quileute Dry,” Angela R. Riley, director of the American Indian Studies Center at the University of California, calls out such rip-offs, proposing a new, more respectful, arrangement:

Going forward, the Quileute should be engaged in the “Twilight” phenomenon. … They should be consulted on projects where the Quileute name and culture are used to market products. And Quileute elders should be able to share with the world the true Quileute creation story, in which tribal members were transformed into humans from wolves (not vampire-fighting wolves).

I recall a lot of excitement over the original casting of Aboriginal actors in New Moon, and, honestly, I was glad to see them achieve that level of mainstream exposure for their talents (even if the film didn’t necessarily make great use of them).

But, as Riley reminds us, Aboriginal peoples often risk getting the short end of the stick when non-Aboriginal artists decide to borrow and bastardize their culture for their own gain.

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