New Tonto, Familiar Feelings for Native Americans

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

SEATTLE (AP) - To most people, the upcoming "Lone Ranger" movie is just a Disney blockbuster featuring action, adventure and Johnny Depp looking over-the-top.

But to Native Americans, it's personal.

The making of the movie, and the announcement that Depp portrays sidekick Tonto, have reawakened feelings about a character that has drawn criticism for being Hollywood creation that spread stereotypes.

The film is in production, but Indian Country has been abuzz for months, with some welcoming a fresh take on old characters. Parts were filmed on the Navajo Nation with tribal support, and an Oklahoma tribe recently made Depp an honorary member.

For others, the film represents a sore spot - one that goes back to the 1950s television version of Tonto, who spoke pidgin, wore buckskin and lacked any real cultural traits.

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