Oscars: Taika Waititi's "First Peoples" Tribute, Chrissy Metz's Mom and More Inside Moments Explained

Taika Waititi Accepts Academy Award - Getty - H 2020
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The Hollywood Reporter breaks down Brad Pitt's shout-out to Robert Garcia, Lin-Manuel Miranda's reference to "T-U-R-T-L-E Power" by Partner in Kryme and more references that may have left viewers at home with questions.

Taika Waititi may have left some viewers wondering about the history behind the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash tribes when he mentioned the groups while presenting the Film Academy's honorary prizes during the 2020 Oscars on Sunday night.

Other viewers may also be curious as to why Chrissy Metz concluded her performance of "I'm Standing With You" by emotionally stating, "I love you, mom."

From Brad Pitt's shout-out to Robert Garcia to Lin-Manuel Miranda referencing "T-U-R-T-L-E Power" by Partner in Kryme and the mention of the Crown Act during the best animated short acceptance speech, The Hollywood Reporter breaks down inside references made during the 92nd Academy Awards that may have left viewers scratching their heads.

What are the tribes Waititi referenced while presenting the Academy's honorary prizes?

While introducing the winners of the Academy’s honorary prizes, including Native American actor Wes Studi, Waititi recognized the native people who occupied the land where the Dolby Theatre currently sits. "The Academy would like to acknowledge that tonight we have gathered on the ancestral lands of the Tongva, the Tataviam and the Chumash. We acknowledge them as the first peoples of this land on which the motion pictures community lives and works," he said during the speech.

The Tongva tribe are a group of Native American people that settled in Southern California, historically inhabiting the Los Angeles Basin and the Southern Channel Islands.

The tribe is believed to have descended from Uto-Aztecan-speaking peoples who originated in what is now Nevada and moved southwest to coastal Southern California 3,500 years ago.

Known as a society of hunter-gatherers, the Tongva tribe often traded goods with neighboring groups.

The Tataviam are similarly based in Southern California. The group occupied an area in what is now northwest present-day Los Angeles County and southern Ventura County, primarily in the upper basin of the Santa Clara River, the Santa Susana Mountains and the Sierra Pelona Mountains. The Santa Clarita Valley is believed to be the center of Tataviam territory, which is north of Los Angeles.

The Spanish first encountered the Tataviam during the group's expeditions from 1769-70. Similar to other indigenous groups, they suffered high rates of fatalities after contracting infectious diseases brought by the Spanish.

The Tataviam tribe are still active and work to maintain a tribal government. 

The Chumash are a tribe of Native American people who historically inhabited the central and southern coastal regions of California, specifically what is now the San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties. They also settled in the three Channel Islands: Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel. The group inhabited the land approximately 13,000 years ago.

The name Chumash means "bead maker" or "seashell people," which was inspired by the tribe originating near the Santa Barbara coast. The Chumash tribe benefited by being near a variety of marine habitats and the intensive currents in coastal waters, which made the Santa Barbara Channel region one of the most resourceful places to live.

Waititi also paid tribute to his Maori culture while accepting best adapted screenplay honors for Jojo Rabbit. The writer and director, who is the first indigenous person to win in the category, concluded his speech with the Maori greeting, “Kia ora," which is an expression of thanks.

Why did Metz dedicate her performance to her mother?

After performing the Oscar-nominated song "I'm Standing With You" from Breakthrough, Metz emotionally said, "I love you, mom."

Metz likely made the shout-out in light of her mother's stroke in 2017. The actress opened up about the sudden stroke in an essay that she wrote for the Christian publication Guideposts, which was published last March.

"The doctor said her prognosis was grim," Metz recalled in the essay. "The stroke was on the left side of the brain. He said he was certain she would have paralysis on her right side and that her speech and swallowing would be severely compromised. 'You don’t know my mom,' I said. I looked down at her unconscious form. They said it was unlikely that she could hear me or understand anything, but I refused to believe that. 'You are strong,' I told her again and again. ‘You are healing.'"

Who is Robert Garcia, whom Brad Pitt thanked while accepting his best supporting actor Oscar?

While accepting the best supporting actor prize for his role in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Pitt thanked director Quentin Tarantino, Leonardo DiCaprio, Bob Richardson, Geena Davis, Mike Moh and Garcia.

After concluding his speech, Pitt told reporters backstage just who Garcia is. "Robert Garcia is a dear, dear old friend of mine. He's a Teamster and I rely on him heavily, and he's a lovely guy," revealed the actor.

What is "T-U-R-T-L-E Power" by Partners in Kryme?

Miranda was tasked with presenting a montage of memorable music moments in film during the ceremony. While introducing the segment, he listed a number of songs featured in movies including "Moon River, "Rainbow Connection," "Danger Zone" and "T-U-R-T-L-E Power."

The last tune, "T-U-R-T-L-E Power" by Partners in Kryme, is featured on the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles soundtrack. The rap song, which was written and produced by Partners in Kryme members James P. Alpern and Richard A. Usher Jr., was released in April 1990.

The song became a hit due to its association with the movie. The worldwide hit reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 7 in New Zealand and was No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart for four weeks in July and August of 1990.

The song's lyrics discuss the dynamics of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and claim that Raphael is leader of the team.

What is the Crown Act, which was mentioned during the best animated short acceptance speech?

While accepting the best animated short Oscar for Hair Love, director Matthew A. Cherry made a remark about the importance of the Crown Act. The legislation bans discrimination against black students and employees with natural hairstyles across the nation.

"Hair Love was done because we wanted to see more representation in animation, we wanted to normalize black hair and there's a very important issue out there, the Crown Act. If we can help get this passed in all 50 states, it will help stories like Deandre Arnold's ... stop to happen," said Cherry.

The name of the act is an acronym for "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair."

The act was first introduced in California in January 2019 by Sen. Holly Mitchell. The Crown Act expanded the definition of race in the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Education Code, while it also ensures protection in workplaces and in public and charter schools.

The inaugural Crown Act was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in July and went into effect on Jan. 1. New York was the second state to introduce the Crown Act under the leadership of Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright and Sen. Jamaal Bailey, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Crown Act into law on July 12.

New Jersey was the third state to enact the Crown Act, while the city of Cincinnati and Montgomery County, Maryland, have also passed the act.

In December, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana introduced the Crown Act in both chambers of Congress.