Just this week, Disney released the trailer for its new 2023 edition of Peter Pan & Wendy. As you watch it from YouTube (on the link embedded below), watch closely for Alyssa Wapanatâhk of Bigstone Cree Nation. But beyond Disney’s choice of casting, what really makes my heart leap is knowing that her depiction of Cree culture – and even nêhiyawêwin – were shaped invisibly, in the background, by Cree language warrior Kevin Lewis.
kîhtwâm mîna kimamihcihinân, Kevin Lewis! Yet again, Kevin, you make us all proud!
In his 28 Feb 2023 story for Native News Online, Levi Rickert writes:
The filmmakers said they went to great lengths to ensure the authenticity and properly appropriate how the Indigenous tribe was depicted in Peter Pan & Wendy. They consulted with Dawn Jackson (Saginaw Chippewa) and Dr. Kevin Lewis (Ministikwan Lake Cree Nation) during the film’s development stage and continuing through principal photography and post-production.
Lewis is an alumni from University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills (UnBQ), where he worked in the social work and Cree and Dene language programs, as well as a sessional lecturer for the university. He consulted on proper usage of the Cree culture on clothing, hairstyles, tribal markings, props, and set designs to ensure intentionality and authenticity were infused in every creative choice, including quill work, Tiger Lily’s saddle, and canoes created by Cree artists and craftspeople….
Having Dr. Lewis on set was helpful to the young actress, whose character speaks both English and a dialect of Cree in the film.
“He was there basically the whole time and he helped me with the Cree language because I don’t speak Cree fluently. I was also able to reach out to my grandmother and my adopted grandfather who helped me with the Cree language,” Wapanatâhk said.