Note how our culture groups Indians with other fantasy figures. Cavemen and Indians? Turok. Pirates and Indians? Peter Pan. Aliens and Indians? Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Vampires and Indians? Twilight.
The message our culture is sending to people is obvious. Indians are fantasy figures akin to werewolves, ghosts, spirits, demons, and other supernatural creatures. They don't exist any more. They're not real.
Debating Depp again
I posted the tweet on Facebook's NativeCelebs page and got the typical range of comments. I've quoted or paraphrased them along with my responses:
"I am actual insulted that Native Celebs Categorized us as a Fantasy Role. Even if it in context with Mr. Depp you may want to rephrase what you have said. Native Americans and First Nations People are Real People."
I was being somewhat sarcastic, Jennie. We don't think Indians are fantasy roles--as we've proved with thousands of postings. But Depp obviously does. Hence his costume, his speech pattern, and the whole "spiritual warrior" thing.
It's just fiction. It's not important. Don't you have anything else to worry about?
For anyone who says "It's just a movie," do you read the other postings on this page? In the last 24 hours I posted a link and quote from the respected Native author Thomas King. To reiterate his point:
Thomas King on The Inconvenient Indian
And a link and quote from Professor Angela Aleiss, who writes about Indians in film and testified on the subject before a Senate committee:
Stolen Identities: The Impact of Racist Stereotypes on Indigenous People
If you want to debate the influence of movies, go ahead and do so--with facts and evidence. Claiming movies have no influence because you don't like to think about it is simply ridiculous. Almost every film expert disagrees with you, and they've studied the subject extensively.
Depp the Indian wannabe
But Johnny Depp is Native...! [citing his Wikipedia entry as if that proves something]
Depp's statement about his heritage explicitly begins with the words "I guess," which means he's guessing he may be Cherokee or Creek but has no evidence. And that's what I've said before: There's no hard evidence, only his belief in family rumors.
FYI, genealogists have looked at the great-grandmother he claims is part Cherokee and found no evidence of it. That doesn't mean she's not Native, but again, there's no evidence that she is.
As far as I can tell, he's in exactly the same position as Elizabeth Warren: repeating unsubstantiated stories and expecting us to believe them. People called Warren a liar for doing that. If she's a liar, so is Depp.
You should be promoting Native celebrities and projects, not tearing them down.
Finally, for anyone who thinks this page exists solely to promote Native celebs, you're mistaken. We post news items that are neutral, not promotional...reviews, both positive and negative...and analyses of the issues facing Native celebs, including stereotyping and racism.
Who Was the Real James Young Deer?
The "James Young Deer" posting directly above is an example of this. It's an investigation into the career of an early filmmaker to see if he was Native as he claimed. It serves to educate people about Native history, not to promote a celebrity or cause.
Besides, criticizing Depp does promote Native celebs. It informs the world that we're not going to sit by idly while Hollywood gives Native roles to non-Native performers. We want authentic Native roles played by authentic Native actors, and Depp's performance detracts from that.
All clear? For more on Johnny Depp, see Depp's Tonto: True or False? and Hammer Says Indians Love Depp.