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As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we must acknowledge the holiday’s problematic origins, given this country’s historical treatment of Indigenous peoples. That’s why the day after has been known as Native American Heritage Day since 2008 when George W. Bush signed it into law.

Let’s honor that day with a quiz showcasing the achievements of some of North America’s best Indigenous film actors.  

1. Graham Greene is a member of the Oneida people out of Ontario, Canada, but that tribe originated in New York, so we’ll claim him. True or false: he was nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar for 1990’s “Dances with Wolves.”                                                                                                   

2. Two Indigenous actresses – Alaskan Iñupiat Irene Bedard and member of Peru’s native peoples Q’orianka Kilcher – played legendary Native American figure Pocahontas, one in Terrence Malick’s 2005 film “The New World” and the other as the speaking voice in the 1995 Disney a animated film “Pocahontas.” Which one was in which?                                                                                                                                                        
3. Singer-songwriter and member of the Cree tribe Buffy Sainte-Marie became the first Indigenous person to win an Academy Award for co-writing the best original song winner from what 1982 film, that also claimed the first best supporting actor win for a Black man?                                                
4. Muscogee nation member Will Sampson had a short film career, from 1975 until his 1987 death. He came out of the gate hot, though, debuting in a five-time Oscar-winning film. Name the 1975 movie?                                                                                                      
5. One of the following has true Indigenous ancestry, while the others allegedly manufactured their backgrounds. Who was the real deal: Iron Eyes Cody, veteran of films like “The Paleface” and “A Man Called Horse,” but best known as the “Crying Indian” in TV PSA’s during the 1970s; Sacheen Littlefeather (“The Laughing Policeman,” The Trial of Billy Jack”), who infamously declined the best actor Oscar on Marlon Brando’s behalf; or wrestler Chief Jay Strongbow, who played himself in movies like Dudley Moore’s “Micki & Maude”?                                                                             
6. Amber Midthunder is a Nakota Native American and veteran of movies like “Sunshine Cleaning” and “Hell or High Water.” Earlier this year, her period piece prequel “Prey” jumpstarted what science fiction film franchise?                                                                                                                      
7. Movie veteran Gil Birmingham (“Hell or High Water,” “Wind River,” “The Twilight Saga”), claiming Comanche descent, had his first credit in a music video for a hit 1982 song. Was it as a showering steelworker in Billy Joel’s “Allentown,” a biker in John Mellencamp’s “Hurts So Good” or a barely clad muscleman cavorting with Diana Ross in “Muscles”?                                                                                                                                        
8. Late Blackfeet actress Misty Upham starred in what 2013 movie opposite Oscar winners Meryl Streep and Chris Cooper?                                          
9. Bedard, Adam Beach (Anishinaabeg) and Michael Greyeyes (Plains Cree) were directed by Chris Eyre (Cheyenne and Arapaho) in 1998’s “Smoke Signals.” It was based on a book by what National Book Award-winning native author?                                                                                                     
10. Oglala Lakota activist and actor Russell Means played Chingachgook in Michael Mann’s 1992 adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper’s “The Last of the Mohicans,” set in and around Lake George (including Albany). Was any of it filmed here?




1. True                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
2. Bedard spoke in the Oscar-winning “Pocahontas”; Kilcher starred in “The New World” at 15.                                                                                       
3. “An Officer and a Gentleman” (for the song “Up Where We Belong”)                                                                                                                             
4. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”                                                                                                                                                                                  
5. Trick question: despite their insistence, all three were labeled frauds. Cody was Espera Oscar di Corti, a second-generation Italian-American; Littlefeather was born Marie Louise Cruz – shortly after her death last month, her sisters said the family was of Mexican descent with no tribal ties; and Strongbow, AKA Luke Joseph Scarpa, was Italian-American, despite the trademark headdress and tomahawk.                                                          
6. “Predator”                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
7. “Muscles”                                                                                                                                                                                                                            
8. “August: Osage County” (Incidentally, Osage is named after a Native American tribe)                                                                                                   
9. Spokane-Coeur d’Alene writer Sherman Alexie (“The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven”)                                                                             
10. No, shooting took place in North Carolina. Asheville doubled for Albany.  




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Movie Quiz: Native American Heritage Day – Vigour Times

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