Johnny Depp Talks About His Adoption

During his time with the Comanche he witnessed a sweatbox ritual a sort of spiritual sauna to cleanse the body and purify the mind and was “adopted” by tribe member LaDonna Harris.

He also took part in a private naming ceremony and became Mah-Woo-Meh.

Johnny says: “The name they chose for me means shape-shifter, which I suppose is quite apt and I take great pride in the choice.

Being adopted, what it means and what it’s meant since that day, has given me so much in my life.

“I’m not a particularly spiritual person myself the only church I have ever seen that makes sense to me is the sweatbox. I do smoke a peace pipe as often as possible, because I like peace... ”

LaDonna decided to adopt Johnny after hearing of his Native American heritage and his desire to portray Tonto fairly.

In doing so the 82-year-old was also following tribal traditions.

LaDonna says: “In the past it was part of the Comanche custom for a tribe leader to take a son and daughter for their own.

“They would have raiding parties and go out and take what they wanted. It was mostly horses or livestock, but they would take a son or daughter if they wanted.

“I was just following tradition. Now I consider Johnny my son and he considers me his mum.

Rotorua's Katerina Pihera met Johnny Depp while attending a Comanche adoption ceremony in New Mexico while she was taking part in an Ambassadors of Maori Opportunities tour.

“I am sure lots of people are quite envious. When I told my other children they were quite surprised. But they have embraced Johnny and were happy to welcome him into our family.

“He is a charming man and we often speak on the phone.

“It is like any other mother-son relationship. I call him Johnny but he likes to use the Native America term for mum, which is Pia.”

Last Friday Johnny took LaDonna to a special US premiere of The Lone Ranger, which is released in UK cinemas in August.

They were pictured arm-in-arm on the red carpet outside a cinema in Lawton, Oklahoma capital of the Comanche nation.

LaDonna later said that Johnny’s sensitive performance would “make all Comanches very proud”.

Things have not all been positive, however. He has been criticized by some for his take on Tonto.

Responses to "Johnny Depp : I have been adopted by Native Americans ... my name is Mah-Woo-Meh"

  1. Knowing that this is a serious and sacred ceremony, consider it a special honor and privilege.

  2. DollFace says:

    This is wonderful. I have always admired him as an actor, and respected him as a person.

  3. Anonymous says:

    why are there photos of this??

  4. Unknown says:

    Johnny Depp (Mah-Woo-Meh)is awesome as well as handsome!!! A positive role model. And to top it off...NATIVE AMERICAN!! YES!!÷

  5. Unknown says:

    Johnny Depp (Mah-Woo-Meh)is awesome as well as handsome!!! A positive role model. And to top it off...NATIVE AMERICAN!! YES!!÷

  6. barbara says:

    MAH WOO MEJ. We are proud to have you as part of the first nations people

  7. Anonymous says:

    Why would anyone expect all Indian people agree on anything, no matter how good or bad it was? Human beings don't all think alike. The character of Tonto has been and is fraught with political, racial and cultural bombs. Any portrayal of the Tonto character, no matter how good or sensitive is going to be one man's (Mr. Depp's) portrayal, and thus is not going to please everyone. I think the most important thing is for Mr. Depp to be respectful and true to his adopted Commanche traditions etc.. If he pleases his people with his portrayal of Tonto then he's done well. I haven't seen the movie, though I intend to, but with Mr. Depp portraying Tonto, I suspect the character of Tonto in the movie will not be the typical Tonto as "second banana" role. Presumably, Tonto will be shown in a role that includes Tonto's conceiving of, developing and mentoring the Lone Ranger as part of a fully developed Tonto character as opposed to the wooden Indian of previous works. If anyone can do this, it would be Mr. Depp.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Really, I think that his past behavior has been that of a rather confused person. However, that doesn't predict his future behavior. I hope that he does find his centered spiritual place. I do hope he finds his connection with nature, the land and the great spirit. It will only make him a better person and actor.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I too feel this Tonto would have been played better by a Native American. He certainly would have known that a sweat box in prison and a sweat lodge ceremony are a like in that in either case you sweat. However a sweat box is a punishment for something you did. It is not your choice to enter. You are thrown in and made to stay there. The person tossed in has no say or choice. The sweat Lodge is a religious ceremony of sacrifice and prayer. The sweat is your sacrifice gifted to the Creator. The prayers are for someone else that is in need. The only two things ever asked for are help and health.

  10. christy says:

    ok, here's the real thing now...
    firstly mr Depp has native american ancestors, so he is concidered somehow a native American(or indian as it's wrongfully used to be called)..Secondly, the only reason why he accepted to play Tonto, is because he wanted to ameliorate Tonto's image and in general the image of all Native Americans...his heart was in the right place.I think that nobody can acuse him of anything and the new Tonto's character couldn't be played by anybody else....

  11. P'datkoomkwe says:

    We will all have to sit back and wait and see how well he does in this roll. Always been one of my favorite actors, but there have been some movies I really didn't like of his. As far as him speaking of smoking the "peace pipe", somebody please teach him the right way, it is not a peace pipe, that is a white mans term, it is actually a ceremonial pipe. It got the name peace pipe when natives were called to Washington DC to see the White leader, and the White men ended up calling it that, cause they wanted peace with the Natives. But for the people that make the pipes and have been brought up in these teachings , this is not the correct term.

  12. Unknown says:

    Well, Mr. Depp is sincerely advocating for the Native image of us in Hollywood, thus I congratulate him.

  13. Anonymous says:

    He needs to be instructed on Inipi ceremony not sweat box and it is canupa not peace pipe

  14. Anonymous says:

    then educate him in a positive manner not everyone knows the origional way.or their proper terms. some people have to get of their butts n start teaching as much as they know themselvesto others that dont know, instead of holding it all to themselves. remember its not fair to the next generation if we dont teach them.

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