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courtesy Disney

Depp's Tonto 'A Major Setback for the Native American Image,' Says Expert

ICTMN Staff
7/3/13

In a new interview with NPR, Johnny Depp, who plays Tonto in Disney's The Lone Ranger (in theaters today) further muddies his possible Native ancestry. In the past, he has claimed Cherokee or perhaps Creek—he now tells NPR the theorized heritage "could be Choctaw."

But it's the thoughts from Harry Geiogamah, Kiowa, that are more provocative. Geiogamah, a former UCLA professor who served as a consultant on Disney's Pocahontas movies, describes Depp as looking like "a gothic freak."

"It's a major setback for the Native American image in the world," Geiogamah adds, "because that's how millions of people will think American Indians are now."

Geiogamah's appraisal is contrasted with Depp's reiteration that he feels he's bringing "a dignity and a respect" to the role that previous portrayals had lacked.

But Geiogamah feels that the progress that has been made in Hollywood—progress in which he had a handis being "pushed aside because a big star wants to play Tonto."

To read or listen to the full NPR feature, visit "Does Disney's Tonto Reinforce Stereotypes Or Overcome Them?"

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Comments

Sam Harris
Sam Harris
Submitted by Sam Harris on
No doubt Johnny Depp does look dumb with the face painted that way and that dead bird on his head :p

delosnavajos's picture
delosnavajos
Submitted by delosnavajos on
Re: "It's a major setback for the Native American image in the world," Geiogamah adds, "because that's how millions of people will think American Indians are now." I hope that 'people' and Geiogamah recognize Tonto is a fictional character set in a work of fiction in the 19th century. Re G's statement about progress being "pushed aside because a big star wants to play Tonto": Prior to this movie, according to different authorities, the symbol of Tonto was among the least desirable of Indian symbols, which makes me think that few Indian actors would have wanted to play this role. It was, to some degree, an untouchable role.
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