Justin Bieber said he could get "free gas" in Canada due to his Native heritage.

Got Native in You? Great. Just Try to Avoid Pulling a Justin Bieber

ICTMN Staff
7/24/12

When Canadian pop singer Justin Bieber revealed in Rolling Stone that he believes he's part Native, he wasn't breaking new ground for a celebrity—believing or claiming to have Native ancestry is nearly as much as a celebrity-interview cliche as "...but what I really want to do is direct." However, throwing in the comment that he thinks he could get "free gas" because of his heritage turned a perhaps-interesting detail about him into a confession of ignorance.

Many celebrities with no documented Tribal affiliation have said they're part Native—and there's usually little reason to doubt the sincerity of their beliefs. But there's a difference between having an Indian ancestor and actually knowing anything about Indians. It may seem like obvious advice, but perhaps it should be the first lesson a publicist drills into a client: If you don't know what you're talking about, best keep your mouth shut. Here are some celebrities who have managed to discuss the Native roots they believe they possess—without pulling a Bieber.

Channing Tatum

Channing Tatum

The list of celebrities who've said they have Native heritage is extremely long, and often the detail finds its way into the biography without a clear statement from the star. Such is the case with Channing Tatum, star of Magic Mike, who may be as much as a quarter Native American. In a cover feature in GQ magazine from 2009, the writer described Tatum thusly: "He's 29. A part Native American son of a roofer who fell through a roof, broke his back, and ended up a traveling salesman, and of a mother who never doubted him." Did Tatum say he's Native? Presumably he did, and presumably GQ fact-checks its articles. Still, we don't have a direct quote, much less a specific Tribal heritage.

Vanessa Hudgens

Vanessa Hudgens

In a 2006 interview, High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens was asked about her ethnicity; she answered "Gosh, I'm everything. Pretty much I'm Filipino and Caucasian but within that, I'm Spain Spanish, Chinese, American Indian, Irish. "

Anthony Kiedis

Anthony Kiedis

The lead singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers is said to be of Mohican ancestry on his mother's side. In 2007, after the birth of his son, Everly Bear, he told People that the name had some Native significance to him: "The mama came up with Bear. ... That made sense to me because he's from me and I feel like I'm part of the bear clan, and I think it's nice to have a little bit of earth in your name."

Megan Fox

Megan Fox

In 2010, Megan Fox said that she'd really like to play the Apache superhero Rainmaker if the Gen 13 comic book were ever made into a movie. In slightly defensive remarks, she said she wouldn't want "people" (presumably Indians) to "protest" if she were in the role: “She’s a Native American and I have a little bit of that blood in me. ... It would be a bit of a stretch—but if Jake Gyllenhaal can be the Prince of Persia, I think that I can do that.”

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp

The actor playing Tonto in the movie version of The Lone Ranger (coming 2013) has been asked about his Native heritage, and answered at length for an Entertainment Weekly article: “I guess I have some Native American somewhere down the line,” he says. “My great grandmother was quite a bit of Native American, she grew up Cherokee or maybe Creek Indian. Makes sense in terms of coming from Kentucky, which is rife with Cherokee and Creek.” He also added some speculation which, had he not cited his sources, might have come off as Bieber-esque: “The interesting thing ... if you find out you’ve got Native American blood, which a lot of people do, is you think about where it comes from and go back and read the great books, Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee or [John Ehle's] Trail of Tears, you have to think, somewhere along the line, I’m the product of some horrific rape. You just have that little sliver in your chemical makeup.”

Taylor Lautner

Taylor Lautner

It's been well documented that many supporting actors who play Quileute Indians in the Twilight movies—Chaske Spencer, Gil Birmingham and Julia Jones, to name a few—are of Native heritage. But what about Taylor Lautner, one of the leads, who plays Quileute Jacob Black? In an interview from 2008 Comic Con, he answers the question very simply: "I have some Native American in my distant background."

The Jonas Brothers

The Jonas Brothers

Asked about their heritage during a video chat with fans, the brothers simply stated, "We're Italian, German, Irish, Cherokee Indian."

Shannon Elizabeth

Shannon Elizabeth

Following her rise to prominence in American Pie, actress Shannon Elizabeth (born Shannon Elizabeth Fadal) mentioned Cherokee as one of several components of her mother's heritage. "My father is half-Syrian, my mother a mix of English, Irish, German and Cherokee," Elizabeth said in 2000, as quoted in the Orlando Sentinel. "I guess you could say she's a mutt, but she's the best mom in the world."

Tommy Lee Jones

Tommy Lee Jones

The Oscar-winning Hollywood actor took ownership of his Indian roots as few seeming Caucasians do; in statements that ran in Cowboys & Indians magazine, he said that what he'd achieved in his life was, "Not bad for a little Indian boy. Not bad." Jones' claim is on his grandmother's side; when the writer asked him what tribe she was from, Jones replied: "It's not a tribe. It's a nation. ... The Cherokee Nation."

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n8tiveboy's picture
n8tiveboy
Submitted by n8tiveboy on
Why all of a sudden does everyone in the world want to be n8tive? If you are N8tive you should know what a C.I.B means, right! Proof is the key to being N8tive or not! When the census was taken there seem to be more Cherokee than Navajo's! I am full blooded Dine'(NAVAJO) and proud of it. We are the largest tribe and so called wanna be natives are ruining a tradition for the Cherokees! Any body can say that but prove it before you make an ass of yourself image! Learn what it is to be N8tive first! Any one can get on the internet and read about a certain tribe and claim to be a member of that tribe!

bertkaulaity's picture
bertkaulaity
Submitted by bertkaulaity on
More power to the first people, red is the first color, it will only makes us stronger to have so many wanting to be a part of the first people, we need more natives to post comments, share options, even vent their feeling about the world we live in today, freedom of speech is a darn good tool we need to exploit it to the max, come on now you young ones help us elders teach the power of speech too all nations of the redman aho from a proud Kiowa grandmother hoping to be a great grandmother.

firstnationsgirl's picture
firstnationsgirl
Submitted by firstnationsgirl on
Us in nova scotia dont get free gas, we get tax free. thats it.. and if justin bieber wants to go as far as saying he's native just for some tax free gas is pretty stupid. your god damn millionaire, just pay for you tax.. it shouldnt make a big difference in your wallet. besides.. even if he was "part" native, he wouldnt be a full status, and wont be able to get a status card anyway. he would be considered a BillC31..or something like that.

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous
Submitted by Anonymous on
What is the difference of someone being a quarter irish and an 1/8th native, you can claim the irish but not the native. I know for a fact that I am native, unfortunately I do not know what nation. Why? because My great great grandfather who ran away at 12 to NY married a white woman and his grandsons wife denied her children their heritage. So my gg grandfather was not on any roll and I cant be a card carrying member. Maybe my shovel teeth are proof enough. I don't want anything free or handed to me..I just want to recognize my ancestors and be proud of the blood that flows through my veins..

native61twin's picture
native61twin
Submitted by native61twin on
I think that you should only claim to be Native if you are an enrolled member of a tribe or if you are actually culturaly involved in your tribe. Unless they actually help Native tribes it really does/proves nothing to claim to be Native. I find it annoying that everyone now claims to be Natvie when they probably know nothing about it.

chippewa baby..'s picture
chippewa baby..
Submitted by chippewa baby.. on
white people always seen to claim to be Cherokee, it's sickening.. why claim to be something you're. what do you expect to get out of "having native in you" ?

Mixed Blood's picture
Mixed Blood
Submitted by Mixed Blood on
Not everyone in this world is full blooded anything anymore. If someone's great grandparent's happened to be native Indian and that great grandchild wants to be proud of their native heritage...let them do so! It's not like they are looking for "treaty rights" or benefits! Like OMG. If they are the child of a mother of a grandmother of G grand-mother or GG grandmother. Then they have some native Indian blood in them. Even if it's 1/16 or 1/32. They could be 1/8 Italian 1/8 Cherokee 1/14 Irish and 1/2 German or whatever. Let them be who they are. They are Mixed blood and so are just as proud to be who they are as you are. No need to go all native on everyone!

Mixed Blood's picture
Mixed Blood
Submitted by Mixed Blood on
Not everyone in this world is full blooded anything anymore. If someone's great grandparent's happened to be native Indian and that great grandchild wants to be proud of their native heritage...let them do so! It's not like they are looking for "treaty rights" or benefits! Like OMG. If they are the child of a mother of a grandmother of G grand-mother or GG grandmother. Then they have some native Indian blood in them. Even if it's 1/16 or 1/32. They could be 1/8 Italian 1/8 Cherokee 1/14 Irish and 1/2 German or whatever. Let them be who they are. They are Mixed blood and so are just as proud to be who they are as you are. No need to go all native on everyone!

Mixed Blood's picture
Mixed Blood
Submitted by Mixed Blood on
And why do we always hear the saying claim to be native? They're not trying to "claim" (take) anything. They just want to recognize the blood flowing through their veins as one commenter put it. And we can so called "claim" French or Dutch or English or Scottish or German blood etc. in our society, but it's wrong for others to recognize Native Indian blood too? that's ignorant. It's time to grow up and mature to a level of understanding that's beyond the usual cultural barriers.

eversickboi's picture
eversickboi
Submitted by eversickboi on
Growing up in Winnipeg I almost feel Native even though I'm White. there's no way the Jonas Brothers are fucking Native they look JEWISH

eversickboi's picture
eversickboi
Submitted by eversickboi on
Growing up in Winnipeg I almost feel Native even though I'm White. there's no way the Jonas Brothers are fucking Native they look JEWISH
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