An exhibit of 23 Quileute artworks, intended to debunk the tall tales of tribal heritage told in the "Twilight" saga, will open at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian on Friday.
PORT ANGELES — An exhibit of 23 Quileute artworks, intended to debunk the tall tales of tribal heritage told in the “Twilight” saga, will open at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian on Friday.
“Behind the Scenes: The Real Story of the Quileute Wolves” will open Friday in the Sealaska Gallery on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
During the exhibition’s opening weekend, Chris Morganroth III, a tribal member and one of only two still fluent in the Quileute language, will tell traditional stories for children and families in the museum’s imagiNATIONS Activity Center and present Quileute culture and stories in the Rasmuson Theater during the Native Storytelling Festival.
The exhibition was organized by the Quileute Tribe and the Seattle Art Museum, where it was on view for one year, beginning in August 2010.
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The exhibit brings together rare works of Quileute art as a counterpoint to the supernatural storyline depicted in the popular “Twilight” novels and movies.
Wolves are an important part of Quileute legend. But werewolves never were part of the La Push tribe’s heritage.
According to oral traditions, the first Quileute people were changed from a pair of wolves into human form by the Transformer, Kwati.
Because of the creation legend, wolf imagery is prominent in Quileute art, and to this day the tribe continues to enact masked dances to honor the original supernatural connection to wolves.
Among the pieces to be displayed in the Smithsonian exhibit are elaborate wolf headdresses, rattles, baskets and a whalebone dance club.
“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.
“The Smithsonian exhibit is the perfect forum to tell the authentic story of our people.”
Also on view will be historic drawings created by Quileute teens who attended the Quileute Day School from 1905 through 1908.
The drawings depict wolf ritual dances and shamanistic performances, house posts that were part of the Potlatch Hall and a whaling scene that shows a crew of eight men coming alongside a whale in their cedar canoe.
The exhibition includes a map of Quileute-language place names of the modern village and the vast aboriginal territories that stretched from the Pacific Ocean to the Olympic Mountains.
Also on display will be a timeline of Quileute history and a 12-minute looped video that presents interviews with tribal members and teens describing the effect of the “Twilight” films in their own words.
Replicas of items used in the “Twilight” films include a paddle necklace worn by the character Emily, a traditional Quileute hand drum and a necklace of Olivella shells that are seen in Emily’s house, and a dream catcher Jacob gives to Bella.