The energy of a pow wow and the chance to meet "Twilight" actor Chaske Spencer brought a few hundred people to the first day of the Midwest SOARRING Foundation's annual Harvest Pow Wow on Saturday at the Naper Settlement.
Before Spencer made an appearance to the entire crowd, he held a meet-and-greet with about 35 fans who paid for the privilege, discussing his youth on a Native American reservation, his love for photography, and of course, his "Twilight" role as lead werewolf Sam Uley.
Actual wolves also made their way into the conversation as Denise Kinsey of Naperville presented Spencer with a photo of the wolf on which his character was based.
"I'm here to teach people that we need (wolves) here for the environment," Kinsey said.
She and her wolf dog S'uk'a are ambassadors for Wolf Mountain, a habitat in Southern California whose wolves became models for the animals in the "Twilight" movies.
Spencer thanked Kinsey for the framed photo but said he was largely unaware of the research done to help produce realistic creatures for the films.
"We didn't go into method acting of watching wolves," he said. "They showed us a big cutout of what the wolf would look like."
Spencer, 37, told fans he grew up on an Indian reservation until leaving for New York City at age 21 to pursue acting.
"What I like about acting is it's helped me put myself in other people's shoes," said Spencer, who is of Sioux, Nez PercÚ, Cherokee, Creek, French and Dutch heritage.
He said he's passionate about helping create sustainable solutions to problems in Native American and other communities through the nonprofit United Global Shift. His other passion is photography because of the "instant gratification of capturing the light in people or objects," Spencer said. "I do believe that you can train your eye as a photographer."
Erin O'Meara of Palos Park and her son, 9-year-old Thom Spencer, attended the actor's meet-and-greet session before volunteering at the pow wow, which featured native dances and performances, authentic food, storytelling and an 18-foot teepee.
After going to a pow wow in New Mexico, "I just fell in love with it; I love the energy," O'Meara said.
Thom, who is a "Twilight" fan, said he enjoyed his brush with a celebrity who, by last name alone, could be family.
"It was exciting to see him and tell him that I have the same last name," Thom said.
The Harvest Pow Wow continues from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Naper Settlement, 523 E. Webster St. in Naperville.