Leah Clearwater (Quileute, b.1986) & Julia Jones (Choctaw-Chickasaw-African American, b. 1981)
Leah Clearwater is the only female shape-shifter in Stephenie Meyer’s The Twilight Saga, causing her to view herself as a deficient woman, as a “freak” or “girlie-wolf—good for nothing else.” Although referred to as werewolves throughout the book, Meyer’s fictionalised Quileute Native Americans prefer the term ‘shape-shifter’ for their totemic, congenitally inherited werewolf nature, differentiating themselves from infectious, lunar-cycling werewolves, or Children of the Moon. Once Leah begins wolf phasing she ceases menstruating, simultaneously robbed of her ability to become pregnant and excluded from being a Child of the Moon in more ways than one.
Julia Jones is the latest actress to portray a shape-shifting Native American, a legacy that can be traced back to the 1913 film, The Werewolf. Unlike her Victorian predecessors, Jones is of Native American heritage herself.
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