Will Disney’s new Tonto be any better? (Video)

 With the July 3 premiere of The Lone Ranger approaching, a new article by the Associated Press asks "Will Disney’s new Tonto be any better?", and presents comments by various experts, including a Comanche consultant on the film.

“There are a lot of people out there screaming who are not Comanche, as in this story Tonto is supposed to be,” said William "Two-Raven" Voelker. “They know nothing of bird culture. When we wear or use those feathers, we’re calling on the energy of the entire bird.”

The article also cites comments by Michelle Shining Elk that appeared at in which she made the case that Depp's portrayal reinforces the idea “that we are uneducated, irrelevant, noncontributors to society living in teepees out on the Plains.” Shining Elk focused on Depp's choice to make Tonto speak in the familiar Hollywood Indian dialect.

"Never was there a time when our ancestors or our elders spoke the way Depp portrays Tonto" she said. "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 mainstream Westerns.

The Associated Press article also addressed the idea that Depp's Tonto displays a sense of humor that will appeal to Indians. Comedian Ernest Tsosie of the duo James and Ernie is open to the possibility. “From what I saw, there’s some moments in there that are meant to be funny but not outwardly funny," he said. "I think most Natives will pick up on it.”

The Lone Ranger 2013 Official Trailer + Trailer Review

Responses to "Depp's Tonto is Faithful to Comanche Culture, Says Consultant"

  1. Anonymous says:

    I don't think anyone has a rght to say a word about this character other than those Native Americans who know the true history (not the revisionist history). Who are we to portray a Native American correctly. We didn't grow up in their shoes; therefore, we cannot assume to know what it's like. Jonny Dep (IMO) usually studies his characters better before he plays one. On the other hand, what does Johnny Dep owe us? He's doing his job to the best of his ability and he owes us nothing. He gives enough of himself at work. He has a right not to be judged by people who are not walkling in his shoes.

    Lynne Krop

  2. Anonymous says:

    No Lynne, everyone has the right to an opinion actually. And I'd say Depp's possible Indian heritage had absolutely nothing to do with his being chosen for this roll. He's there because he's famous and and will draw audiences. Critics are right; this is 'black-face' for Indians. It's a shame Depp thinks good intentions as an individual somehow negate the moral implications of his actions in a broader social and historical sense.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I swear I made my sculpture last year, long before Johnny Dep decided to portray his character this way, I bet we used the same famous painting as inspiration! Hopefully I can now sell some of my portraits, lol

  4. Anonymous says:

    In reference of Michelle Shining Elk, I know her personally as we are from the same tribe and lived in the same Native community of Nespelem. She is a joke and many tribal people don't respect her. She has displayed lateral racism towards her own people and made comments about "off-Rezers" (Indian people who live off the reservations) as having no clue of what goes on our own reservation and that we have no right to speak. Michelle herself lives off reservation and in California. She is arrogant and feels entitled because her mother is on tribal council. She is a fake and doesn't even practice her own Native traditions. I don't see her at any of our ceremonies or participate at our traditional gatherings. She feels she is too good because she lives in Hollywood. We all think of her as a "Hollywood Indian" much like she tries to say Johnny Depp is. I am considering the source and none of her words mean anything to me and so I tell the public reading her trash, she is nothing and shouldn't be taken seriously when dealing with tribal issues. I find Johnny Depp did his best and has lots of respect towards Native people. Go to the Gathering of Nations website and view his message to the people. He is proud of his Native heritage and nothing Michelle says has any merit.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Does it really matter that we are full blooded or half blooded?? I say NO, a lot of us are of Indian American culture and do not even realize this. Johnny made a very bold move playing this part and I am personally proud to have him represent the true Indian beliefs. There is NO native to my Indian, my ancestors were born here, raised here, our children were kidnapped and forced to learn from and bear children to the "educated" people that stole our land. To add more misery to pain, our ancestors were chased away from all that was known to them and forced to live on reservations. The truth is the truth!!

  6. Unknown says:

    the name and star power of johnny depp will draw audiences more than a full blooded Comanchee that no one has ever heard of. but there are inaccuracies.
    certainly the "make-up and costume" are not authentic regalia:

  7. indians must be freed of ostracism,and sterotyping.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Boo hoo everyone get a life and watch the damm movie everyone so touchy its a movie chill out this is the land of the free No Doubt had to pull there video cause the indians started crying what the hell is that your allowed to say ass and bitch on tv but you cant star as a native in your video how did we go from strong hunters to big baby's stop crying

  9. Anonymous says:

    does johnny depp speak "real" Comanchee in this movie , as so to educate and inspire young Comanchee children .....but now i ask ....why not a real "Comanchee" full blood , or another full blood Native American actor ....Tonto wasnt half blood , or was he ....i feel it takes away from the true essence of the story and puts one famous Hollywood actor in to save the movie , what is it now " all special effects and no good story line ",,,,,hell Jackie Chan looks more Native American than Johnny Depp.....hell since were going hollywood indian mabey they should of hired Flavor Flave or will smith or louie andreson .....

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