‘Baby Yoda is now one of us’

This beaded patch was made by Heather Stewart, Kashechewan First Nation, who has been beading for 30 years. She says it took her eight hours to make. Photo by Heather Stewart.

Aliyah Chavez

Baby Yoda, a character from The Mandalorian, is a popular source of inspiration for Indigenous creatives

If you’ve seen photos of an adorable green creature on social media lately, you’re not alone. You know the one with big curious eyes and small fingers? That’s Baby Yoda. He’s a character from the Disney+ series called “The Mandalorian.”

Baby Yoda has been the subject of various internet memes and artwork. Many internet users were quick to ‘adopt’ him as Indigenous (though his tribal affiliation is being debated) noting that he has a similar story to many Indigenous people. 

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Some of the most popular memes include Baby Yoda wearing a Pendleton jacket. Others include screenshotted photos with captions of Native humor.

One tweet received more than 35,000 retweets and 155,000 likes. It was created by Charelle Brown of Kewa Pueblo who says she thought of it while studying for finals. She is a senior at Yale University studying architecture. The large reaction surprised her.

“One of the best parts of this was seeing other people of color who were sharing memories of their grandparents too,” Brown said. Some users reached out to her to say they remember drinking cafecitos with their grandparents.

[RELATED: ‘So darn cute:’ Indigenous artists and memers embrace Star Wars series’ Baby Yoda]

Before Baby Yoda was popular, Indigenous artists have used Star Wars as the basis for many of their designs.

Steven Paul Judd, a Kiowa and Choctaw artist, began making Star Wars graphics approximately six years ago. He estimates having between 10 and 15 designs based on the action movie series. Early on he says he found a correlation between Star Wars and Native people.

“Star Wars is basically a story about rebels fighting against an evil empire,” Judd said. “Native people are still here even though they fought against a huge empire that was encroaching against them.”

Judd says he received his inspiration from painters like Bunky Echo-Hawk and Ryan Singer. 

The next episode of The Mandalorian will stream on Disney+ on December 6.

Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com

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