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21 celebrities & comma; you didn't know were Indians

November is Native American Heritage Month, when the United States officially celebrates Native American culture and traditions. With more than 5 million Native American people in the United States, it is not surprising that many famous people (or their ancestors) in the arts and entertainment industries are on record with one of the many tribes.

Researching ancestors and Claiming Official enrollment in a Native American tribe can be a difficult process. While researching what famous people claim Native American blood, it is clear that you are going to do the reporting yourself, for the most part. It's pretty common knowledge that Elvis, for example, was directly descended from the Cherokee (and who argue with Elvis, anyway?). Other celebrities who claim to be of Native American origin have caused more controversy. Cher, for example, said she had 1/16 Cherokee blood after the release of her single, "Half Race," in the 1970s. Her claims were controversial, and her choice to wear a typical Native American headdress while performing the song on Sonny and Cher not convince everyone.

There are many actors and musicians whose Native American ancestry is less obvious. Jimi Hendrix, Tori Amos and Chuck Norris gave surprises for me. That was Angelina Jolie, for that matter. It doesn't really occur to me to wonder where these people came from, or who they were descended from, so having ethnicity isn't shocking. I just never thought of it.

My favorite Native American movie experience was Smoke signals, one of my favorite films based on Sherman Alexie's book Lone Ranger and Tonto fist fight in heaven. It's hard to believe the book came out 20 years ago this summer, but the dates don't lie, I guess.
"If The Lone Ranger was published, I was being introduced by the publishing world while I was living back on the rez, after college, "said Alexie's new Yorker. "I was dubbed" one of the most important lyric voices of our time "while I slept in a US Army surplus bed built in the unfinished basement bedroom in my government family home."

This quote from Alexie's book sums up everything I would hope would not happen to Native American people in Hollywood or anywhere.

"... but I know someone has to think about us because if they didn't, we'd just disappear, as did the Indians who used to climb the pueblos. The Indians disappeared with food still cooking in the pot and air that waiting to be inhaled and they turned into dust birds or the blue of the sky or the yellow of the sun. There they were suddenly they were only for a second and only for a second no one thought about them forgotten and then they were gone. "

History and human contributions are far too rich to be forgotten. Check out 21 Celebrities You May Not Have Known Were Indians.

  • 21 celebs you didn't know were Indians
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  • Benjamin Bratt's mother was a Peruvian Quechua Indian from Lima.

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • Hendrix was a Cherokee neighborhood, via his grandmother.

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • Tori Amos is the Cherokee gender on her mother's side.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • The quintessential American entertainer, Rogers owned Cherokee.

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • Lou Diamond Phillips
    6 of 22

    Lou Diamond Phillips - best known by many for his role as Richie Valens in La Bamba - is of partial Cherokee descent.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Ben Harper's father is of Cherokee descent.

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • Kid Cudi's father is of partial Native American descent.

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • Angelina Jolie's mother, the late Marcheline Bertrand, claims Native American ancestry. She and her partner, Native American activist and poet John Trudell, founded the All Tribes Foundation for the benefit of the Native Americans.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Rosario's biological father was reportedly Native American and of Irish descent.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • "I think I have some Indians somewhere down the line," said Johnny Depp Entertainment Weekly. "My great-grandmother was raised quite a bit of Indian, Cherokee, or maybe Creek Indian." Makes sense with that from Kentucky, which is widespread with Cherokee and Creek. "

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Heather Locklear
    12 of 22

    Heather Locklear is said to be the Lumbee ancestor on her father's side.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Jessica's mother family belongs to Indians.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Jennifer Tilly's mother was of partial Native American descent.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Cameron Diaz's mother is of Native American descent.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Singer and actress Mandy Moore is of Cherokee descent.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Miley's father, Cyrus, speaks often of his family's Cherokee heritage.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Joe Jonas - and therefore of course the rest of the Jonas - are reportedly by Cherokee gender on their father's side.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Elvis Presley's great-great-great-grandmother, tomorrow white dove was a thoroughbred Cherokee.

    Image credit: Wikipedia

  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers front man grandmother was of Mohican descent.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Chuck Norris' father, Ray Norris, was of Cherokee ancestry.

    Image credit: Pacific Coast News

  • Burt Reynold's father was of Irish Cherokee descent.

    Image credit: Wikipedia

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