Johnny Depp & The Never Ending Hollywood Indian By -Michelle Shining Elk-The Last Real Indian
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.
“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.
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…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…
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:
“ 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)
There are many legends about how the Indians learned about the Talking Feather”. Here is one of them…
Long years ago, when gods walked this earth and the land beyond, Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei, were together enjoying the warm summer day. It was a day when the crickets chirrupted in the waving, green grass,when they noticed a figure moving towards them.
As the figure approached closer Kanati said “Look, that woman is crying, what could be the matter?” “I can not imagine why anyone would cry on such a glorious day.” Replied Asgaya Gigagei. “Let’s ask her.”
As the woman drew nearer, they could see her buckskin was decorated with beautiful designs and colors. She carried a bundle filled with leaves, sage, and colorful stones and feathers. They knew immediately this woman was a holy being.
Kanati asked her “Holy mother, why are you crying so?” The woman looked up in wonder, because she had been walking with her head down. “I’m crying because the men of my village are fighting constantly! Each thinks his ideas for leading the tribe is the best!” Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei glanced at one another, in perplexity. “Why, if there are so many good ideas for leading your tribe, why are the men fighting? And why aren’t you and the other members happy!” The poor woman shook her head sadly and replied, “Yes, you are right, the men do have very good ideas, but every man wants to speak his own ideas, and not listen to anyone else. They all shout and scream at one another so loudly, that it frightens the children who run and hide behind their mothers. The women are sad because their husbands come to the house upset and angry. Furthermore, the tribe is suffering, because no one can seem to make a decision.” Just then a beautiful Eagle was soaring overhead, Kanati called out “Brother Eagle, may I have one of your feathers, there are poor humans in desperate need!”
Bother Eagle replied “Yes” and shook himself until a single iridescent, large feather fell to the ground. “Many thanks and Blessings on you” said Kanati. Kanati made secret signs and prayers over the Feather. Asgaya Gigagei helped him with the blessings. Kanati then said to the woman “This is the sacred Talking Father, it holds great power for the one who holds it. Go back to your people, hold this feather up in the air, all who see it will fall silent, and listen to what you have to say. Tell all who listen that from now on, who ever holds this feather, all present within the Circle Council must listen to his words. The feather must then be passed on to the next speaker.”
The woman thanked Kanati and Asgaya Gigagei and hurried back to her village where there was total chaos!. Everyone was talking at once, children were crying, men were screaming at each other. As soon as she held the feather over her head, all became quiet! No one could utter a sound! the holy woman proceeded to give the directions given to her by the gods. She then passed the feather to the first man. He called the Talking Circle together, and each man had his say as he held the feather. From that time on that tribe flourished because they now had direction, and each person could hear and understand what their peers said. The people worked together, to build a great nation. Along the way, they shared the wonders of the Talking Feather with other tribes they met. “And that my friends is the true story of how the Talking Feather came to be!”