Some Natives UnHappy With Depp’s “Tonto”

May 16th, 2013  |  Published in Culture, Education, Social Issues

O’siyo. The movie The Lone Ranger and Tonto starring Johnny Depp opens in theaters July 3, 2013. In the movie Depp portrays Tonto an American Indian who wears a stuffed crow on his head. When asked where he got the idea for a crow as a head piece, Depp stated his inspiration came from a painting by artist Kirby Sattler, entitled “I Am A Crow” (see photo below). The film’s Comanche  adviser, Two-Raven” Voelker stated, “There are a lot of people out there screaming who are not Comanche, as in this story Tonto is supposed to be. When we wear or use those feathers, we’re calling on the energy of the entire bird.” Still, many Natives who’ve seen the movie trailer are not happy with Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Tonto.

I Am Crow (right) painting by artist Kirby Sattler via the artist's official site-

I Am Crow (right) painting by artist Kirby Sattler via the artist’s official site-

Excerpt: Johnny Depp & The Never Ending Hollywood Indian By -Michelle Shining Elk-The Last Real Indian
“Hollywood Baggage. This day in age, we still have Hollywood baggage that perpetuates American Indian stereotypes. We are in what century? Oh right…the 21st. Guess Depp didn’t get the memo when he was preparing for his role in The Lone Ranger.

Tonto talking to a horse. Photo- GeekPeeks.

Tonto talking to a horse. Photo- GeekPeeks.

How we (as American Indian people) are described or portrayed, even this day in age, has a significant impact on how we are perceived, taken seriously, or respected…Like teachers influence their students throughout their scholastic programs, so do people in all forms of media and entertainment who misrepresent us as American Indian people and continue to perpetuate the stereotypes as they influence their fans, readers, listeners, followers and viewers. Thus…the perpetual cycle of stereotypes and misinformation continue seemingly without end…Scene from movie. Photo- The Durango Herald.Thanks Johnny Depp for not exercising your gifts of being an amazing actor who is typically able to bring amazing life to your characters using that talent. Sadly and so disappointing is seeing that all you have done here is simply mimic the pathetic speech patterns created and always depicted in the ridiculous stereotype plagued lot of Hollywood Spaghetti Westerns films…

An original version of the Lone Ranger from the 1950s. Tonto is played by Canadian Mohawk First Nations Jay Silverheels.  Photo- Crushable.

An original version of the Lone Ranger from the 1950s. Tonto is played by Canadian Mohawk First Nations Jay Silverheels. Photo- Crushable.

Sadly, it seems that until we rid ourselves of the “Hollywood baggage” that plagues the truth about who the contemporary, relevant, talented, thought leaders that we are, the room for us to get our messages across is the size of a matchbox. But, we’ll keep on fighting the good fight.” Read More…

Trailer for movie The Lone Ranger:

Trailer  Link

“ I’m glad so many American Indians garnered work and some income from this movie, but sadly there is no way I’ll be able to sit through 90 minutes of watching Johnny Depp act like an idiot and sound like a buffoon.” ~ Michelle Shining Elk~ (her opinion on the Tonto character in The Lone Ranger film- 2013)