Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chaske Spencer

Normally when the tribe brings in a speaker they make the customary appearance, talk for about an hour, glad-hand a bit, and away they go into the sunset. That’s just the way it is! So when Chaske Spencer came here, he did give a presentation, but stayed around and took the time to visit people which certainly made it more memorable for people on the reservation. He also posed for a bunch of pictures and signed autographs for the old and the young.

Being a community-based person, I usually try and make most presentations by speakers brought in by the tribe and some are good and some not so good. In my rating system, which doesn’t mean a hell of a lot, puts Chaske Spencer right near the top. He talked about his experiences as an actor and how it is important to constantly study, whether it be in school or reading a script for a movie and how that is essential to get ahead. I thought that was good advice. Chaske Spencer has played in several movies such as the Twilight franchise, which has its own rabid followers. Before he landed this role, Spencer studied acting in New York City, his current home, and did several off-broadway plays and was about ready to give up on acting until he landed the role in the vampire series. The big city life had its own temptations including drawing from a large menu of drugs and alcohol to suit any person’s taste. He did indulge in the fast life to the point where it controlled him to do whatever it took to get the next fix, but Spencer slowly regained control of his life and told the audience if he went back to that life-style only three things could happen: jail; being institutionalized or death. Pretty blunt words, I’d say!

Acting and going out into Indian communities and telling about the hazards of drugs and alcohol is his cure and his obsession. Although he lives in the city, he goes back each year to his reservation and participates in a sun-dance and said when he is hanging there with the string going through his pectoral muscles (remember the movie “A man called Horse”) he is praying, not for himself, but all the people sick, hurting, in jail, on drugs, and alcohol. Those were well-chosen words! He connected to his audience and after he concluded his presentation, he asked the audience if they had any questions and normally nobody asks much, but not this time, quite a few people asked about his acting career, his vices and where he hopes to go from here. I truly believed the people there were proud there is an Indian actor like him out there. It is different, for sure. I enjoyed watching the young children ask question after question and as Spencer said if he can make a difference to just one person then he has done his job, but I think he reached more than one on this trip.

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