Let’s face it, lockdown has been hard on all of us.

You’ve baked all of the bread, you’ve done everything to learn a new language and now there is nothing else to do! I feel like I’m a teenager again: I can’t go out, my hair is long and I have fallen down a Twilight Saga rabbit hole.

From reading fanfiction to looking at Twilight tags on Tumblr, I’m completely lost to the world of Forks and La Push.

There’s a big difference between teenage and 22-year-old me reading these novels; the rose-tinted glasses are well and truly removed. As a politics graduate, I see the books through a completely different lens than simply a reminisced supernatural love triangle.

Not one cent was given to the tribe Stephenie Meyers exploited for her own personal gain.

The Twilight franchise is based in the state of Washington. La Push is the home of the Quileute Tribe, both in Meyer’s fictional world and in ours. In the books, the tribe is described as mainly fishermen and whalers and really secretive about their legends.

One-third of the Twilight love triangle, Jacob, is the son of the chief Billy Black, a man who hates the Cullens and even refuses to allow the Quileutes to get treatment at the hospital that Carlisle works at. Because of the vampires’ presence, some of the young guys in the tribe become shapeshifters to protect the tribe from the cold ones.

The Native American Quileute Nation’s legends are used to explain the shape-shifting nature of the tribe, but Meyer twisted them to suit her own story.

The creation myth of the Quileute people does, in fact, include men turning into wolves.

The creator, or K’wa’iti, created humans from the wolves in the forest. Meyer uses this story to prove that the Tribe was the enemy (something so often attributed to Indigenous communities).

She uses the darker-skinned Native Americans to contrast against her superwhite vampires and uses their folklore to paint them in a civilizing light. It’s not lost on many readers that this is following the narrative so often used by settler communities in North America and by introducing it into popular culture, Meyer sets a dangerous precedent.

It paints tradition and culture as being in conflict with modern education, something the Cullens do not suffer from.

Indigenous communities have suffered at the hands of the white settlers since 1492.

From the genocide to the indoctrination of ‘Western civilization’ through enforced boarding schools; centuries of culture and tradition were forcibly erased. Instead of helping to combat and support Indigenous communities, she helps in their erasure.

Now, when people think of the Quileute tribe they think of ‘Cold Ones,’ not the true creation myth or the Thunderbird.

Similar to many Indigenous reservations, the La Push reservation is in dire poverty.

Through the Twilight franchise, they received many tourists, but they visited for the wrong reasons: not to learn and honor the Quileutes, but for super hot werewolves looking like Taylor Lautner, who incidentally isn’t even Native American (yes, fine, he has ‘distant ancestry’ through his mother’s side of the family).

My point is that Stephenie Meyer made millions from the Twilight franchise. Not one cent was given to the tribe she exploited for her own personal gain.

The reservation has barely changed, unlike her bank account and personality,

Both vampires and werewolves are used to romanticize whiteness and demonize Indigenous communities.

Carlisle, the head of the Cullen family, is a well-respected and super-rich doctor, regardless of his bloodlust and endeavors to help and support people.

The wolfpack, on the other hand, all dropped out of school and cannot contribute to society in the same way. These might be small plot-necessary details, but Meyer peddles stereotypes of Indigenous peoples for the plot.

The role of the shapeshifter is seen as the most important and most honorable position, above everything, even education. The high school graduation rate for Native Americans is only 65%, with college graduation level at 9%.

There is pride in their role as protectors but the consequence is that they cannot leave the reservation or excel in their professional lives.

It paints tradition and culture as being in conflict with modern education, something the Cullens do not suffer from.

On the other hand, the werewolves are violent and short-tempered.

Even the controlled pack alpha Sam Uley injured his girlfriend Emily Young and scarred her face for the rest of his life. Edward only turned Bella out of desperation and as a mercy. The humane nature of the white vampire is contrasted with the Native aggression of Sam.

Sam is reduced to a primitive character: a sign of what love is not.

It creates a narrative of who has the capacity of civilized/refined versus savage/animalistic.

The white character can hold his thirst and protect his love no matter how hard it is. The native character scarred his love after she made him angry.

Sam is reduced to a primitive character: a sign of what love is not. Edward is celebrated and loved for his ability to hold back from killing Bella.

The comparisons between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are blindingly clear. This resurgence of the Twilight Saga should bring with it the decolonized education about Indigenous communities and finally give the Quileute Nation the recognition they deserve.

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Aafiyah Shaikh

By Aafiyah Shaikh

Digital Product Manager