Indigenous Celebrity

Entanglements with Fame


Indigenous Celebrity speaks to the possibilities, challenges, and consequences of popular forms of recognition, critically recasting the lens through which we understand Indigenous people’s entanglements with celebrity. It presents a wide range of essays that explore the theoretical, material, social, cultural, and political impacts of celebrity on and for Indigenous people.

It questions and critiques the whitestream concept of celebrity and the very juxtaposition of “Indigenous” and “celebrity” and casts a critical lens on celebrity culture’s impact on Indigenous people. Indigenous people who willingly engage with celebrity culture, or are drawn up into it, enter into a complex terrain of social relations informed by layered dimensions of colonialism, racism, sexism, homophobia/transphobia, and classism. Yet this reductive framing of celebrity does not account for the ways that Indigenous people’s own worldviews inform Indigenous engagement with celebrity culture––or rather, popular social and cultural forms of recognition.

Indigenous Celebrity reorients conversations on Indigenous celebrity towards understanding how Indigenous people draw from nation-specific processes of respect and recognition while at the same time navigating external assumptions and expectations. This collection examines the relationship of Indigenous people to the concept of celebrity in past, present, and ongoing contexts, identifying commonalities, tensions, and possibilities.


Indigenous Celebrity is an indispensable, paradigm-shifting study of celebrity that centres Indigenous meaning-making, epistemologies, kinship, and world views, even as it remains attuned to the historical and continuing effects of settler-colonial and other colonizing celebrity systems and dynamics upon Indigenous celebrity. From its analyses of Indigenous celebrity activism, to Indigenous sport celebrity, to celebritized “last” speakers of Indigenous languages, to Indigenous celebrity in Australia and India, and beyond, this thoughtful collection builds a compelling broad-based analysis that is attentive to the crucial specificities of place and community. The burgeoning field of celebrity studies dearly needs this book.”

Lorraine York, Distinguished Professor, Department of English, McMaster University

Indigenous Celebrity is well written and engaging, and also provocative. It offers a crucial challenge to scholars whose assumptions about celebrity have been formed and structured by settler-colonial cultures: to rethink how they think about celebrity.”

Katja Lee, Canadian Literature

“The contexts of kinship, reciprocity, responsibility, and resistance are present throughout [Indigenous Celebrity]. A valuable collection.”

Susan Birkwood, University of Toronto Quarterly

About the Authors

Jennifer Adese is Otipemisiwak/Métis and is the Canada Research Chair in Métis Women, Politics, and Community and an Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at University of Toronto Mississauga.

Robert Alexander Innes is a member of Cowessess First Nation and associate professor in the Indigenous Studies Program and the Department of Political Science at McMaster University. He is the author of Elder Brother and the Law of the People and and co-editor, with Kim Anderson, of Indigenous Men and Masculinities.

Other contributors: Daryl Adair, Kim Anderson, Renée E. Mzinegiizhigoo-kwe Bédard, Aadita Chaudhury, Jenny L. Davis, Karen Fox, Christina Giacona, Jonathan G. Hill, Brendan Hokowhitu, Kahente Horn-Miller, David Lakisa, Sheryl Lightfoot, Virginia McLaurin, w. C. sy, Tracy Taylor, Katerina Teaiwa

Table of Contents

Introduction – Indigeneity, Celebrity, and Fame: Accounting for Colonialism
Ch. 1 Mino-Waawiindaganeziwin: What Does Indigenous Celebrity Mean within Anishinaabeg Contexts?
Ch. 2 Empowering Voices from the Past: The Playing Experiences of Retired Pasifika Rugby League Athletes in Australia
Ch. 3 My Mom, The ‘Military Mohawk Princess’: kahntinetha Horn through the lens of Indigenous female celebrity
Ch. 4 Indigenous activism and celebrity: negotiating access, expectation, and obligation
Ch. 5 Rags-to-Riches and Other Fairytales: Indigenous Celebrity in Australia 1950-1980
Ch. 6 “Pretty Boy” Trudeau vs. the “Algonquin Agitator”: Hitting the Ropes of Canadian Colonialist Masculinities
Ch. 7 Famous “Last” Speakers: Celebrity and Erasure in Media Coverage of Indigenous Language Endangerment
Ch. 8 Celebrity in Absentia: situating the Indigenous of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Indian social imaginary
Ch. 9 Marvin Rainwater and the Pale Faced Indian: How Cover Songs Appropriated a Story of Cultural Appropriation
Ch. 10 Collectivity as Indigenous Anti-Celebrity: Global Indigeneity and the Indigenous Rights Movement
Ch. 11 Makings, Meanings, and Recognitions: The Stuff of Anishinaabe Stars