Speaking of Johnny Depp's movies and pirates of the Caribbean....
Whenever we discuss Depp on Facebook's NativeCelebs page, people rush to his defense. He's an Indian because he's part Cherokee, they'll say. He starred in Dead Man and The Brave, so he can play Indians. Let him play Tonto in The Lone Ranger and he'll show us his stuff.
But we don't have to imagine Depp's sensitivity to Native portrayals in film. He already has a notable track record in this area:
Strike one: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest depicts Caribbean Indians as mindless, murderous cannibals. Depp did nothing to change or protest this depiction.
Strike two: Public Enemies co-stars Marion Cotillard as John Dillinger's Menominee girlfriend. Depp did nothing to get a Native actress hired for the role.
Strike three: Rango features Gil Birmingham as Wounded Crow, a stereotypical stoic Indian type. Depp did nothing to make this character more three-dimensional.
Three strikes and you're out, Johnny.
To those who say Depp is only an actor, not a producer, I say rubbish. Arguably none of these movies would've been made without Depp's participation. The Pirates sequels certainly wouldn't have been. He had the clout to ask for changes, at least. Whether they were made or not, he would've been on record advocating accurate representations of Indians in Hollywood.
Instead he did nothing. But he's the great red hope who'll make Tonto a hero and role model for a generation of Natives? Somehow, I doubt it.
In short, what has Johnny Depp done for Indians lately? Not much.
For more on the Lone Ranger, see The Lone Ranger as Don Quixote? and Marty Two Bulls on Johnny Depp. For more on casting issues in general, see Oprah Winfrey the Indian? and No Indians at the 2011 Oscars.