Depp's maternal great-grandmother, Minnie, was a full-blooded Cherokee and Depp also has Cherokee ancestry on his father's side.
Is Johnny Depp being shunned by Oscar because of his Cherokee background?
Depp’s L.A. nightclub, the Viper Room, was named after the deadly Serpentine Viper, which the Cherokee held sacred as the hottest place to bring an impressionable young Disney Channel starlet with a bra full of speed balls. It’s no coincidence that the Viper Room rests on the picturesque Sunset Strip, either, since this is the name of the erotic dance in which Cherokee women engaged to encourage the sun to go down.
<sarcasm> I'm glad we got Depp's background straight. His maternal grandfather or great-grandmother was Cherokee, or his ancestors were Indian-princess types. </sarcasm>
Let's suppose he's 1/16th Cherokee. He starred in Dead Man and The Brave, and he has a tattoo. That's about it for his Indian identity.
That might be good enough for an Indian role in a minor movie. But enough to play the iconic role of Tonto? No way. The role should've gone to someone who's recognizably Indian.
Depp's alleged Indian ancestry comes from the Eastern Cherokee of Kentucky. Tonto presumably was an Indian from the Texas area--perhaps a Comanche or Apache. Having him played by someone who's 1/16th Eastern Cherokee is several degrees less authentic than having him played by a full-blooded Canadian Mohawk (Jay Silverheels).
And none of these Internet sources has any credibility. In fact, Depp himself doesn't have any credibility. Until he shows us a family tree linking him to a documented Cherokee ancestor, his claims are worthless. They're no different from the claims of millions of other Americans descended from a "Cherokee princess."
For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.
P.S. My former sister-in-law looks like a blonde homecoming queen, but she's a quarter Cherokee. She works at Disney, too. I guess that qualifies her to play Pocahontas or Sacagawea in an upcoming movie.