Say What? UK Man Quits Job to ‘Become’ Native American

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown August 4th, 2014 Last Updated on: August 4th, 2014

Recently the Daily Mirror ran a story on a man from the UK that quit his job at a mayonnaise factory to “become” a Native American. Ok, so it's the Daily Mirror, and they tout themselves as an “intelligent tabloid” newspaper. However, I still put these stories right up there with Bat Boy or Bigfoot hanging out at the local coffee shop. But still, I'm curious as to what is going on here?

Photo via Daily Mirror

Photo via Daily Mirror

The article says, “The 65-year-old (Les Atkins) from Walsall, West Midlands retired from his job on July 31 after 15 years of service – but now plans to spend his days dressed as his alter-ego Native American.”

Oh really?

Photo via Daily Mirror

Photo via Daily Mirror

He estimates he's spent at least £5,000 on his obsession over the years – but admits the total is probably much higher.

Les said: “I've been obsessed with the Native American way of life ever since I started watching spaghetti westerns in the 50s.

“They really got me interested so I started learning more. I've visited a few reserves in Arizona and Utah.

So this is all Sergio Leone's fault! But wait, there's more.

He first started doing his own exhibitions in the 1970s and hopes his increased free time through retirement helps him spread his knowledge and passion.

Les said: “Their way of life is not all about rain dances and scalping people's heads. I want to teach people how they helped the first wave of settlers by giving them gifts like food.

So he has plans to travel across the UK and teach folks the “ways of the Native American”. Oh boy.

Photo via Daily Mirror

Photo via Daily Mirror

Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » Say What? UK Man Quits Job to ‘Become' Native American

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

If natives teach others about their true ways, like about the animal nations, I think it is a good thing. Actually in history you had whites, and blacks that would run off to go live with natives… because they enjoyed a better life and were free. When no disrespect is intended, it should be noted.
Aŋpétu kiŋ lé taŋyáŋ máni ye.

-Walk well today.

Susan gunn

Lighten up. It’s kinda sweet & a compliment.

Susan gunn

There’s- a lot worse things the old man could choose to be…so having a little humor is best . You show a lot of humanity Irene towards others which is a good human trait to have & says much about you.
When humans cannot look upon others with a little humor they show rigidity & intolerance as there are far worse atrocities to really get worked up about than. Silly old man living out his eccentricities!

Terri Wedding

I am not an ‘official’ member of a Native American tribe. Though my paternal grandmother was full blood Cherokee, since I cannot find ‘evidence’ to prove this, I cannot rightfully claim any Cherokee blood that might flow through my veins. Even though my heart and blood beats along with the tribal drum and I feel a kinship with the people, I cannot proclaim to the world that I am one with the people I love so dearly. So, I guess I can truthfully say I can understand why this man did this. Evidently he has some inborn kindred spirit with the people that he wants to share with the world. I commend him for his decision…..

Lori Matchopatow- Gillis

I am a Native American from the Menominee Nation and I find this very offensive. I don’t appreciate non native people dressing and acting like Real Natives. It’s very disrespecful to us Natives.


This should be known as the “height of foolery.” He has succeeded in making a fool of himself with his fantasy. Perhaps he could visit Sand Creek – or the Trail of Tears – or Wounded Knee, so he can see the dance of ghosts. I implore this man to accept who HE is – not attempt to emulate an American Indian because he thinks it’s a “cool thing” to do. Better yet — this man should visit every reservation in America and then donate all his money to helping the rez people in the winter time. Lessons to be learned? It ain’t all about wearing buckskin and feathers, Quemo Sabe.

Mark Walker

Now, I’ve seen everything…
And, Irene… when you come back as an Indian, as an Indigenous person to this continent, and live with all the “human experience” that goes with it; i.e. your beliefs, traditions mocked, stolen, your language intentionally buried, living on a reservation knowing there is this history and culture that your grandparents knew of as children but were forced to leave behind by schools of the culture that also tries to keep you “buried” as well…. THEN you can talk about this and be taken seriously.


As a native child,I was shot through the heart by a redcoat soldier,we are not this one life.
Even now I have contact with my ancestors.
We are all one spirit,but I ask you,’what are you doing about making the changes?’
Complaining about the past is not changing the future,we should learn from past mistakes and hopefully,move on…..

Sandy E

As if REAL native Americans don’t look down on “wannabees” enough! Nice going, man.
You can still learn from what NDNs have to teach – without trying to emulate them. You turn your back on your own heritage when you try to adopt another’s. It’s so sad that whites adopt and steal cultural aspects from indigenous people. Is their culture so severely lacking? Or are whites just naturally thieves? Or is it individual – something lacking in the “wannabees” lives?


You folks are very gracious toward this man. That speaks volumes of character, among the commenters’.

Free Email Series: What to Expect at Your First Pow Wow