I wish this was an April Fools joke…Speidi takes on "Native American" names

In heidi montag, Indian names, Native American names, publicity stunt, rosebud sioux, spencer and heidi pratt, TMZ by Adrienne K.9 Comments

Spencer and Heidi Pratt are no strangers to publicity stunts, but their most recent attempt at getting into the tabloids is just plain weird. They have decided to take on “true Native American Names”.

So, from now on Heidi will be known as “White Wolf” and Spencer as “Running Bear”. Could the have picked more stereotypical names? nice one, guys.

Heidi had this to say about their choice to re-name themselves:

”we are getting more in-tune with our spirituality … and will be known as the name our creator has given us – our true native-American names.”

 The weird capitalization is how they released it in their statement. But why’d you have to bring the Creator into this?

Of course, the hard hitting journalists over at TMZ did some investigating and called up a nameless “representative” of the Rosebud Sioux who expressed their anger (and rightly so):

“Continued stereotyping such as this by people ignorant of our traditional ways is very disrespectful and only hurts our efforts to curtail these stereotypes.”

 And this article even quoted NIEA (National Indian Education Association) as saying:

“They have taken an inaccurate stereotypical approach to enhance their public image which is offensive to our diverse American Indian cultures.”

 I think we can all agree that this is a stupid publicity stunt, that comes at the expense of Native peoples and culture. The fact that they tie it in with their “spirituality” and that they claim the names are the “name the Creator has given us” is the most offensive part.

Until 1978 and the passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, we as Native peoples had no legal rights or protections to practice traditional spirituality. Natives could be prosecuted for trespassing on federal lands, even if they were attempting to access sacred sites, or could be jailed for the possession of sacred materials, such as bones or peyote. Like all other forms of cultural appropriation, the appropriation of Native religious practices comes out of a history of persecution and marginalization. So, Speidi, adopting Native American names and spirituality is no better than donning war paint and feathers and war-whooping down Robertson Bvld.

Also, can we talk about the quotes from TMZ? First of all, why is the Rosebud Sioux tribe representative of all Native peoples in the US? Why doesn’t your “representative” have a name? That strikes me as strange and a little rude, unless the person desired to remain anonymous (but the article doesn’t note that as the case). Did they just tell an intern “go get a quote from a Native American to include in our post!”?

and NIEA is an amazing organization that does great work in Indian Country and in advancing Indian Education–but they’re being contacted for a quote on Heidi from The Hills? I’m sorry, I’m not going to call up the US department of Education if a Native makes a disparaging comment about White culture. There’s no relationship there. But I guess one Indian organization is the same as another, right? geez.

Overall, if this had come out today (rather than yesterday) I would have chalked it up to April Fools. But, as it stands, it’s just another attempt by Spencer and Heidi to make people talk about them, and clearly it’s working.

TMZ post: http://www.tmz.com/2010/04/01/native-american-white-wolf-running-bear-heidi-and-spencer-sioux-tribe-indians-south-dakota-national-indian-education-association-backlash/

The Hollywood Gossip post: http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/2010/03/heidi-montag-and-spencer-pratt-deny-breakup-rumors-adopt-spiritu/

Examiner Post with NIEA quote: http://www.examiner.com/x-11363-TV-Examiner~y2010m4d1-Heidi-Montag-Spencer-Pratt-not-making-friends-in-Native-American-community


(Thanks Mar and Tiffany!)
  • Anonymous

    Heidi & Spencer have been making us White people look back for so long they must be running out of ways to do so. So now they have to move on to a different cultural group.

  • Anonymous

    We thought it was bizarre as well when they contacted our office. We didn’t want to perpetuate a stereotype. We are diverse people, and not all Native tribes have naming ceremonies. Although we are an “Indian Education” organization, we represent all, and acknowledge our unique differences through tribally specific needs and curriculum. What a great site you have! You write well, and your thoughts are organized. Best to you, Michael from NIEA.

  • Amber Graywolf

    This makes me wanna punch something.

  • Felicia Carmona

    What Idiots…..Why do white peaople always want to be Native so bad???

  • Thanks for your comments!

    @Michael-I hope it didn’t seem like I was criticizing NIEA for commenting, I thought what you said was right on point and needed to be said. I definitely was just peeved that they called you all, out of all the thousands of Indian organizations out there, some that deal specifically with these types of issues–to me it felt out of place and a little disrespectful to you as an organization and your mission. I’m a huge supporter of NIEA (I’m in Ed school right now), so keep up the good work! :)

  • Anonymous

    Embarrassed white girl over here…But then, those strange people don’t represent me, either! Just shows, we’ve got to keep educating all people.

  • ketchikanite

    Why do you go out of your way to question TMZ? You asked ‘did they just tell an intern “go get a quote from a Native American to include in our post!”?’
    Frankly that’s putting words into the their mouths and a supposition on your part of an event you have no knowledge of. What was TMZ supposed to do? Call every tribe in the U.S.? At no point in their article did they state that the Rosebud Sioux tribe was representative of all Native peoples in the U.S. In the TMZ article they stated ‘The rep claims they’re especially upset because “the names they have given themselves are legitimate names in our tribe.”‘
    So if the names are legitimate names used by the Rosebud Sioux then isn’t appropriate that a Rosebud Sioux says something about it?
    Just trying to understand your intentions with that paragraph concerning TMZ.

  • Anonymous


  • @ketchikanite –

    A good point, but TMZ is not exactly a bastion of journalistic integrity. Posting 000 calls about dying celebrities and accessing personal medical records isn’t award winning stuff. I get Adrienne’s rage at TMZ, especially because their coverage does indirectly reinforce stereotypes about who ‘speaks’ for others.