A young First Nations actress is using her appearance in a Hollywood teen movie for a noble cause: to connect the spirits of young tribal people across North America.
Tinsel Korey, the beautiful girl who plays the Makah character Emily in the movie "New Moon," based on the "Twilight" book series, came to share her experience with Makah children on Thursday, September 9, 2009, in the Neah Bay school gymnasium.
Korey is one of the Inishinaabe people, of the Great Lakes region. She was accompanied by her publicist, Jackie Jacobs, a Lumbee from South Carolina, and the Navajo photographer and videographer Yazzie, who was documenting her tour of local tribal areas and towns associated with the book series.
Yazzie had also auditioned for the movie, in answer to a casting call that asked for "native Americans." Korey herself doesn't look like a Makah, but in a movie industry where native peoples have been played by everyone from Germans to Italians -- and sometimes still are -- the fact that the native characters are natives of any sort is a major step forward.
On a leg of the tour to promote the movie, Korey visited the Quilleute town of LaPush, on the west coast of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula. She soon realized that many of the tourists who were walking on Rialto beach, right beside the town, thought that the Quilleute nation was an imaginary invention of the Twilight series' author,.
Korey decided readers outside tribal society needed to know that the Quilleute are real people, with their own emotions and culture.
"When you have a gift you have to share," said Korey. "I was taught by my grandparents and ancestors we have a responsibility to share our gifts with our youth."
The delegation was greeted by Micah McCarty, Vice Chairman of the Makah Tribal Council. He said that Korey, out of respect for her movie character, wanted to share some inspirational words with young First Nations people.
Koey said, "It's important for the nations being represented in the book to be represented in what's really going on in."
Korey discussed with the students the need to express emotion and community. She spoke of how acting can help teach young people skills they will need in their later educational and employment lives. She taught the students "slates," which is how to approach a casting call, including properly sharing their names, personal details and business cards.
Korey stood quietly while McCarty supported what she had said, nodding as he said that acting required hard work and determination and a good reading ability.
The Makah people take great pride in their own heroic figures. They are a people of song, dance, and art, with a rich tradition of stories and history, and a powerful canoe culture.
Not all teenagers follow the same facets of popular culture. When asked if they had read the "Twilight" series, about a third of the Makah school students held up their hands; the same students held up their hands when asked if they wanted autographs.
But when Makah sports figure T. J. Greene walked into the hall, every student raised a resounding cheer.