"The wolf is central to the cultural beliefs of the Quileute Native Peoples...those ancestral beginnings figure significantly in the Quileute world view, even today."

Chris Morganroth, a Quileute elder, tells traditional stories geared towards kids and families. Morganroth also gives an introduction to Quileute culture and discuss how the tribe is presented in the popular Twilight books and movies, which is also the topic of the traveling exhibition "Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves." This performance was recorded in the museum's Rasmuson Theater on January 15, 2012.

For many fans of the Twilight series of books and movies, the word “Quileute” conjures up visions of a mysterious Native American tribe in the Pacific Northwest whose members can transform themselves into werewolves. The truth, according to museum curator Barbara Brotherton, is more complex and more interesting.

As curator of Native American art at the Seattle Art Museum, Brotherton worked with Quileute tribal members to organize the exhibition Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves, which debuted in Seattle and now appears at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Quileute culture has a strong link to wolves and the natural world, but it does not resemble the fantasy of Stephenie Meyer’s bestselling novels for young adults — or the Hollywood film versions of Meyer’s stories, in which Quileutes are shape-shifting werewolves who interact with vampires, said Brotherton.

Wolves are indigenous to the forests surrounding the Quileutes’ ancestral homeland (the coastal village of La Push, Washington, which is now the tribe’s reservation). Oral traditions say that the powerful Transformer, Kwati, changed a pair of wolves into the first Quileute people.

Traditional Quileute life revolved around five prestigious secret societies: the Wolf, or Black Face, Society for warriors; the Fishermen’s Society; the Hunters’ or Elk Society; the Whale Hunters’ Society; and the Weathermen’s Society, whose members predicted the weather (an essential part of planning seasonal hunts). “The Quileute have been and remain people who rely on resources from the sea and land,” Brotherton said.

The Wolf Society was entrusted with protecting the tribe, and was so named because wolves “are known for their ability to detect intruders through highly developed senses, for their stealth of movement, and loyalty to their pack,” the exhibition states. Objects on display include elaborate wolf headdresses worn by ceremonial dancers, a basket decorated with a wolf motif, and historic drawings by Quileute children (dated 1905 through 1908) of whaling scenes and wolf-themed tribal dances.(Source)

Responses to "The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves (Video)"

  1. Unknown says:

    It is good to know the actual story behind the Qrileute. I found it very interesting and informative.

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