Trade Wars

Star Wars TV finally puts Tusken Raiders in the limelight, and it’s about time

The Tusken Raiders are just like any other native alien in “Star Wars”. Like the Gungans or even the Ewoks from the original trilogy, they are slow to trust outsiders who enter their lands, but are fiercely loyal to those who earn their respect. Boba, as seen in “The Tribes of Tatooine,” wins this and more. Not only does he coax them out of their reluctance with technology, but he also defends them – and their ancestral land! – the invasive Pyke syndicate.

This kind of “Dancing with the Wolves” story can get old quickly when it is a white man who adopts the “simple” cultures of the Other. But Temuera Morrison, who first gave Jango Fett a face and later Boba, is deeply in touch with her own native roots. As a result, he in turn was able to influence the Tusken culture.

“I’m from the Maori nation of New Zealand,” Morrison told The New York Times in 2020, “and I wanted to bring that kind of spirit and energy, which we call wairua.”

Morrison passed on his cultural dance, the haka, to the Tuskens. Even the handling of the gaffi stick was inspired by the Polynesian fighting style. At the end of “The Tribes of Tatooine”, Boba has been trained to fight like the Tuskens do and performs a ceremonial dance with the whole tribe. It was a moment that put a surprising smile on my face. It warmed my heart to see the Tuskens – a group coded not only as people of color, but as a monolithic threat in general – treated with such reverence.