February 22, 2009

Friday, Tonto, Jacob Black, et al.

Here's my official take on the issue of non-Natives being cast as Natives in movies and TV shows.

The ‘redface’ era returns

Non-Natives make the best Natives, says HollywoodThese days, a good tan is the only thing that separates Indians from other Americans. Producers would never suggest a Native to play King Arthur, Superman or JFK, but it’s okay for non-Natives to play Friday, Tonto or Charles Curtis. Message to Indians: You and your culture and heritage don’t matter.

“Natives need to be cast for Native parts,” said Shonie De La Rosa, Navajo, director and owner of Sheephead Films. “It’s that simple. With a little effort on Hollywood’s part it can be done.”
Comment:  I'm glad to say Indian Country Today asked me to write this article. It means the Indian newspaper of record recognized me as an advocate on this issue.

For more on the "redface" issue, see Natives on Non-Native Casting and A Brief History of "Redface." For more on the subject in general, see The Best Indian Movies.

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