Stephenie Meyer Changed Quileute History for a Love Story

Many brush over the Indigenous misrepresentation of the Quileute tribe in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga. Read about it here!

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The Twilight Saga is the most popular vampire series to hit both the shelves and the big screen. With its novel debut in 2005 and film premiere in 2008, Twilight took the world by storm. Amassing a sprawling, passionate fanbase with four books and five movies, Stephenie Meyer successfully captured hearts through the intense, romantic tale of Edward, a sparkly and brooding vampire, and Bella, a quiet teenager. Added to this love entanglement is Jacob Black, a werewolf and member of the Quileute tribe. Though nearly every fan is devoted to Edward and his relationship with Bella, the story sparked discourse between the two love interests and formed “Team Edward” versus “Team Jacob”.

The first novel and film take place in Forks, Washington, which is a real place. You can actually stay at Bella’s house, though it is rented out for the next two-plus years. The Quileute Nation is also a real Native group. They found themselves thrust into the spotlight, attached to a fictional story as a tourist attraction.

While many Indigenous actors were cast to play members of the Quileute tribe in the film, Jacob was played by Taylor Lautner, an actor with no Indigenous blood in him. This was only one of many lasting Quileute misrepresentations in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight.

Quileute are not Werewolves


One of the most harmful rewrites is the origin story of the Quileute Nation. Meyer chooses to craft a specific beginning that will best fit her story but bends the truth about the actual, underrepresented Indigenous group.

Passed down through oral retellings, Quileute were remolded from wolves to humans by Qwati, a transformer. In Eclipse, Billy Black, a fictional member of the Quileute tribe, instead says Kaheleha is “the first great Spirit Chief in [Quileute] history,” and credits shape-shifting abilities to him (Eclipse, 245).

All vestiges of truth—and thereby of intercultural understanding—give way here before the onslaught of movieland’s mythic creation.”

Churchill, 237

Western media is guilty of ignoring contemporary and urban Indigenous voices. Twilight‘s dismissal of genuine Quileute representation is clear.

Natives from the quileute

Tommy Orange, member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and author of There, There, agrees storytelling is an indispensable part of Native American culture, but within the media, he believes “as native people we have a history of learning bad history — and not only not hearing our stories, but hearing it told wrong. Either it’s covered up or it’s a downright lie about how things went down in American history,” (EW).

Tattoo Exploitation without Compensation

real native and Jacob Black side by side

Jacob Black has a large, circular tattoo on his arm to represent two wolves from Quileute folktale. A white Canadian artist Lesza Snowdon designed the tattoo, but she utilizes artistic style from the Haida Nation, ultimately fusing two distinct and separate groups into one overgeneralization.

 Because of the pervasiveness of media, even the most subtle stereotypes, presented in everything from movies to advertising, reinforce inaccurate, oversimplified, and potentially harmful understandings of Native Americans today.”

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

The Twilight Saga made millions of dollars in revenue. Jacob’s tattoo was even featured on merchandise. Fans could buy T-shirts or jewelry molded after the design at Nordstrom or Hot Topic. Despite this, Quileute did not make a single dime for having their culture and history appropriated for a fictional story about vampires.

Resources and Opportunity for Education

I highly recommend Twilight lovers and even casual viewers to visit Truth versus Twilight, a very well-articulated website created by the Burke Museum and Quileute Tribe in a joint effort to address the misconceptions created by the Twilight Saga.

In addition to shedding light on the appropriation of Quileute culture, we wish to expose how the Twilight saga has presented a skewed version of modern Native American life and to offer visitors to this site an alternative perspective with links to resources for a more meaningful understanding of Indians in the modern era.”

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

The media does not always appropriately portray marginalized groups. It’s important to be able to criticize the same franchise you love and hold dear. Click here to read more articles about Indigenous literature and representation.

Click here to read more of the wrongs about the Native Americans in the Twilight Saga.