January 19, 2016

Means: Geronimo had 100+ errors

Hollywood v. Indians: Russell Means, The Great Mystery and Adam Sandler's Dreck

By Bayard JohnsonRussell came over for dinner one evening and sat down at the table, hardly speaking, staring into space. He was in another world. After a while he sat up straighter, cleared his throat, and came back to our kitchen table. “Got a look at the GERONIMO script,” he said. “It’s the worst piece of trash I’ve ever seen.” I can’t remember how many factual errors about Indians were written into the script. It was a staggering number, over 100. Everything about the script reflected an attempt by non-Indians, who knew nothing about Indians or their culture or beliefs or ways of life, to make money off the popular current interest in movies about American Indians. There was no attempt by the filmmakers to learn anything factual about Indians, or to represent them on screen with any accuracy whatsoever, according to Russell’s reading of the script.Means said he wouldn't do anything about it. The Great Mystery would take care of the problem:How was the Great Mystery going to take care of GERONIMO? I must’ve looked dubious. “If you look at the history of Hollywood,” said Russell, “you’ll see that recent movies that have treated Indians with respect—LAST OF THE MOHICANS, LITTLE BIG MAN, THE OUTLAW JOSIE WALES, DANCES WITH WOLVES—have all done well at the box office. Those like GERONIMO, which trampled roughshod over Indian culture, were box office disasters. Just wait, said Russell. You’ll see.

The numbers became clear later in 1993. GERONIMO cost $35 million to produce. The picture grossed $18 million, meaning that everyone who tried to exploit Indian culture to make money lost their ass instead.
Of course, Means also told us what he thought the best Native movies of the 1990s were:Last of the Mohicans and the best one of them all, Pocahontas.Not Dances with Wolves or Smoke Signals but Pocahontas, which must've had hundreds if not thousands of historical errors. So take his claims with a grain of salt.

For more on Russell Means, see Means on His Acting Career and Means on Native Movies.

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