May 21, 2012

Depp adopted by Comanches

'Lone Ranger' no more! Johnny Depp adopted into Comanche Nation

By Marc SnetikerIn a move that is likely to spark discussion, the Comanche Nation has officially adopted Johnny Depp into its family in celebration of his role as Tonto in the upcoming film adaptation of The Lone Ranger.

LaDonna Harris, the Comanche president and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity, lauded Depp’s “historic” portrayal of full-blooded Comanche Tonto in Disney’s Western reboot (opposite Armie Hammer as the titular cowboy).

“It seemed like a natural fit to officially welcome him into our Comanche family,” said Harris in a press release (ICTMN broke the story earlier today). “I reached out, and Johnny was very receptive to the idea. He seemed proud to receive the invitation, and we were honored that he so enthusiastically agreed. Welcoming Johnny into the family in the traditional way was so fitting. He’s a very thoughtful human being, and throughout his life and career, he has exhibited traits that are aligned with the values and worldview that Indigenous peoples share.”

Harris hosted the ‘adoption’ ceremony last week at her home in Albuquerque, where Depp, Comanche Nation chairman Johnny Wauqua and other AIO staff and family members were in attendance. After Depp was given a Comanche name in the private ceremony, he provided gifts to the attendees, as is tradition.
Comment:  In what sense is Depp's Tonto "historic"? Native actors have played full-blooded Comanches and other Indians before. As for his particular take on Tonto, it's about 30 years old:

TontoLater depictions beginning in the 1980s have taken efforts to show Tonto as an articulate and proud warrior whom the Ranger treats as an equal partner. In the Topps Comics four-issue miniseries, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, Tonto is even shown to be a very witty, outspoken and sarcastic character willing to punch the Lone Ranger during a heated argument and commenting on his past pop-culture depictions with the words, "Of course, Kemosabe. Maybe when we talked I should use that 'me Tonto' stuff, way they write about me in the dime novels. You'd like that, wouldn't you?"For more on the subject, see Depp's Intent Doesn't Excuse Stereotypes and Depp Admits Tonto Costume's Origin.

Below:  "LaDonna Harris and Johnny Depp at the ceremony during which Depp was adopted by the Comanche Nation." (Danielle Webster/AIO)

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