In the month of November, the United States celebrates the Native American culture and traditions. A common fact is that more than 5 million individuals can claim some sort of specific backgrounds. So it should be reasonable to assume that many celebrities are descendants to some tribes. This native American celebrities list includes 23 of them.
Claiming your spot within the Native American community can be challenging. Often you will see a celebrity that claims to be Native American go through scrutiny. They even get involved in controversy before they are actually accepted as part of the tribe. One example can be seen when Cher tried claiming her ethnicity as including 1/16 Cherokee blood. People disputed her claim. Moreover, her choice of costume as she performed during certain broadcasts certainly did not strengthen her case.
Some Native American celebrities are easy to spot with their trademark features. But others are harder to identify. Here is a list of Native American celebrities you may never have known were wrapped in its ancestry.
23 Native American Celebrities You Never Knew Were Native American
1. Jimi Hendrix
This legendary guitarist makes the Native American celebrities list because of his grandmother’s heritage. She was Cherokee which would make Jimi a quarter Native American as well.
In fact, he can claim being the first inductee of the Native American Music Hall of Fame as well. How’s that for proof?
2. Angelina Jolie
Angelina’s Native American heritage may be what gives her those trademark high cheek bones. Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, claims ties with Haudenosaunee and Iroquois tribes.
Together with her Native American poet counterpart, they have founded the All Tribes Foundation which provides benefits to Native Americans.
3. Johnny Depp
In 2011, Johnny Depp reiterated his claim to join the ranks of Native American celebrities to represent Tonto in The Lone Ranger movie. Johnny claimed his great-grandmother was predominantly of Cherokee blood. He had made previous statements of this fact a few years earlier.
However, this has been disputed by many Native American leaders. They say there is no proof his heritage reflects his claims especially because he began his career with Disney. So, if he legitimately had Cherokee blood flowing in his veins, Disney should already hold that proof. However, his family is from Kentucky where it is steeped in Cherokee and Creek Indian heritage. Thus, some say his claim may in fact be legit.
4. Kid Cudi
Cudi’s claim is easily recognized since his father who had passed away when Cudi was very young was half Mexican and half Native American.
This fact gives Cudi at least one-quarter Native American blood and entry into the group of Native American celebrities.
5. Miley Cyrus
Miley’s father, Billy Ray Cyrus, sports his Cherokee pride through his body art. He has often been heard referring to his family’s Native American background.
6. Elvis Presley
Another legend with at least a small amount of Native American blood, Elvis Presley is a descendant of a great-great-great-grandmother named Morning White Dove, who was full-blooded Cherokee.
7. The Jonas Brothers
These musicians have an amalgam of many different cultures. But they also claim some Native American descent (specifically Cherokee) through their father’s side of the family.
8. Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz has had a very successful acting career. On her father’s side of the family you will find Cuban and American blood.
However, on her mother’s side she has been given a bit of Native American blood mixed in with some Italian and German as well.
11. Carrie Underwood
This Grammy award winning celebrity has been said to have Native American descent. She is listed as having Muscogee heritage at the Five Civilized Tribes museum in her home state of Oklahoma.
12. Billy Bob Thornton
Next on our Native American celebrities list is Billy Bob Thornton. He claims one fourth Choctaw Indian in his blood along with another fourth being Italian and the rest being Irish.
13. Jessica Alba
After a visit to the set of Lopez Tonight, hosted by George Lopez, Jessica Alba discovered her true heritage. Through DNA testing she found out her background is 13% Native American and 87% European.
She had previously thought her Native American percentage would be much higher. This is because her mother had Quebecois ancestry.
14. Kristin Chenoweth
Known for her recognizable vocal talent that can be heard in movies such as Rio, Peanuts Movie, Disney’s Descendants, Kristin Chenoweth is a force on the silver screen. She has also been on Broadway, in many movies, and on various television shows. The actress grew up in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma as an adopted child. However, she has information on her biological family that gives her claim to one quarter Cherokee blood.
15. Larry David
Famous comedian, Larry David, was another celeb to take a DNA test on Lopez Tonight. When the results came back everyone was surprised to see a 37% Native American on the list. However, scientists debated the results because the test may have been a bit flawed.
As a result, it was likely the Native American percentage was higher than it should have been. This is because the test mixes up Native American backgrounds with Ashkenazi Jewish backgrounds, which Mr. David is known to have.
16. Chuck Norris
Who can forget Chuck Norris the nicest tough guy? Actor, martial arts legend, power boat racer, what can’t this man do?
Chuck was the oldest of three boys born to an Irish mother and Cherokee father. His mixed ethnicity got him bullied in school. Back then, believe it or not, he was not athletic at all.
17. Jennifer Tilly
Ever wonder where Jennifer Tilly gets her exotic appeal? Well, you can attribute it to her heritage. On her mother’s side she gained Native American blood while you can also find the rest of her lineage steeped in Chinese Heritage.
18. Heather Locklear
Known for her roles as an actress and producer for the television hit, Melrose Place, Heather Locklear has gone on to appear in many other series, magazines, and movies.
Born in California, her family tree traces back to South Carolina. Her last name is of Lumbee origin and thus it is likely her family has Lumbee ancestry as well.
19. Lou Diamond Phillips
This American actor was born in the Philippines and can claim many different ethnicities. On his mother’s side you will find Chinese, Spanish, Hawaiian, and Filipino. On his father’s side you will find Scottish descent and Irish too. However, there is also some Cherokee on his father’s side.
20. Tori Amos
Next up on our list of Native American celebrities is Tori Amos. This singer and song writer has a background rich in Native American descent. Her great grandmother on her mother’s side was a full blood Cherokee who lived through the Trail of Tears as well as the Civil War.
She often uses her Native American roots within the stories she tells in her music and finds inspiration from the strong women in her life.
21. Anthony Kiedis
The frontman of The Red Hot Chili Peppers claims Mohican blood from his grandmother.
22. Brad Pitt
Brad Pitt was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma and can mainly place his family tree rooted in British Isles ancestry. He has on occasion mentioned knowing that somewhere in his family there is Seminole and Cherokee blood.
However, there is no proof of this in any documented family tree information. However, without DNA testing he will likely never know for sure.
23. Snoop Dogg
It is no surprise that Snoop had 75% Sub-saharan African show up on his DNA test that he made on George Lopez’s talk show. More surprising was the 14% Native American found in there.
That gives Snoop Dogg a Native American claim, even if it is only a small percentage.
24. Charles Barkley
George Lopez does it again and uncovers some interesting information with one of his celebrity DNA tests on an episode of his show. This one was done for retired NBA superstar, Charles Barkley. When the results came back it showed Barkley with nearly a quarter Native American blood.
Though superficially you may not always be able to identify a celebrity’s heritage, through family lines or DNA testing some may themselves be surprised at where they come from. Many are shocked or proud to have their families blessed by the Native American cultures. Some can claim more Native American blood than others. Meanwhile, some have so little that many feel they do not have the right to claim inclusion. Whatever your belief, we can all agree that within the celebrity realm, just as with anywhere else, there is a great mix of many beautiful cultures and backgrounds including Native American.
Which celebrity heritage surprises you the most? What other celebrity background do you find interesting? Leave your interesting comments below.
The images are from depositphotos.com.