Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014: an Indigenous Year in Review

Re-printed with permission from Tom (@waytooindian) of the #NDNZ Daily on twitter

2014: A Year of Indigenous Resistance and Solidarity

2014 was a year of struggle for Indigenous people, but it was also the dawning of a new era of collaboration between diverse groups.  We bonded with our African-American cousins over police brutality and the murder of innocent people of color. We marched with Indigenous people from around the world for Climate justice. We formed grassroots alliances with farmers and ranchers in efforts to stop the Keystone XL pipeline. Our young people re-discovered the activism of the 1970s and gave the struggle new life around Idle No More, Dakota 38, Un-Thanksgiving. The Daily show brought the 40 year old racist mascot issue to the fore-front. Our struggle to bring attention to the murders of our indigenous sisters along the Canadian border was also given more attention this year. Alliance were made between young and old, NDN and non-NDN, environmentalist, anti-fascist, anti-Capitalist, Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street. It was a year to be proud of our new relationships. In 2015, the struggle will be to keep Indigenous people’s voices in the fore-front of all the grassroots movements that we seeded in 2014.

For those of you just getting acquainted with indigenous struggles, here is a list of the top 15 stories on the #NDNZ hash tag on twitter.

Excellent sources of non-mainstream news reporting are:

Brenda Norell’s Censored News

Last Real Indians

Native News Online

TOP 15 stories of 2014
1.)    Tonto at the Oscars. Major twitter storms erupted when the film The Lone Ranger was nominated for best make-up. Hash tags that emerged were:
#NotYourTonto and #NotYourNDN

2.)    Indigenous representation by Hollywood were questioned when Rooney Mara was cast as Princess Tiger Lily in the 2015 prequel to Walt Disney’s Peter Pan
Hash tags:  #NotYourTigerLily

3.) The Cliven Bundy stand-off and extreme right wing racism against Native Americans and claims of “ancestral rights” to Federal lands.
Hash tag: #ClivenBundy

4.) Native American headdresses worn by hipsters and supermodels. University of North Dakota students selling “Siouxper drunk” T shirts and Oklahoma State University students posting an offensive “Trail of Tears” banner. Heidi Klum, Pharell Williams, Khloe Kardashian and other vapid celebrities became infamous for wearing headdresses without understanding the meaning behind them.
Hash tags: #Cochella #NativeAppropriations #RedFaceDisgrace #NotHappy

5,) Indigenous protests against the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and the Virginia spill mounted in a huge Cowboy and Indian alliance protest in Washington, D.C. Native leaders worked with farmers and ranchers and in direct action against the pipeline as well as leading ceremonies and protests around the country.
Hash tags: #NoKXL #RejectandProtect #NoBlackSnake #cowboyindianalliance

6.) Hopi sacred artifacts and masks were auctioned in Paris and Ojibwe scalps were put on display in Germany. #HopiMasks #Ojibwe

7.) The issue of 1200 missing and murdered Indigenous women was raised all over Canada.
Hash tags: #MMIV #OpThunderbird #InquiryNow #VAW
Indigenous Feminists also jumped on the hash tags: #BringbackOURgirls #YesAllWomen and #NotOneMore
Follow @kwetoday @_RuthHopkins @Megawitch @apihtawikossian for information about fighting sexual violence against Indigenous women and girls

8.)4th of July Independence day twitter storm to free all Indigenous Political Prisoners
Hash tags: #FreePeltier #LeonardPeltier #FreeJohnGrahms
Links: http://www.

9.) Removal of racist mascots, chief Wahoo and the R*dsk*ns logo
Hash tags: #ChangeTheName #NotYourMascot #NoHonorInRacism #DeChief
The Jon Stewart show appearance of a crying R*dsk*ns apologist also sparked the popularity of the #WhiteTears tag

10.) The People’s Climate march in New York City was lead by Indigenous peoples.
Hash tags: #PeoplesClimateMarch #ClimateJustice #IndigenousRising

11.) Revitalization of the American Indian Movements and re-discovery of the issues of the 1970s by young activists
Hash tags: #WoundedKneeII #AmericanIndianMovement #Alcatraz

12.) The Dakota 38 ride and the movie

13.) Racist Halloween Costumes were protested along the same time that the movie #DearWhitePeople premiered. Our issues of respect and dignity overlapped.
#RacistHalloween #HalloweenCostume #RacistHalloween

14.) A Thanksgiving education twitter storm along with attempts to fight ulta right-wing erasure of America’s history of genocide

Hash tags: #UnThanksgiving #DecolonizeThanksgiving #AntiThanksgiving #JeffCoSchoolboard
15.) Police brutality and murder of un-armed men of color was highlighted as Native Lives Matter joined with Black lives matter. Protests of un-armed indigenous men murdered by police:

John T Williams
Mah Ha-Vist Goodblanket
Cory Kanoush
Benjamine Whiteshield
Allen Locke

#NativeLivesMatter #ICantBreath #handsupdontshoot #WeWillBreath

For a daily summary of News that affects Indigenous people go to :

The Idle No More Daily
The Indigenous Daily

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Why America Still Needs Tonto

Why America Still Needs Tonto

Reposted and Updated 2.27.2014

Today, February 27, 2014 is the anniversary of Wounded Knee II. In 1973 Catholic church built next to the  grave sites of the original victims of the 1890 Massacre was occupied by members of the American Indian Movement and their supporters. This is also the week of the 2014 Oscars. I'm still in shock to learn that "The Lone Ranger" was nominated for "best makeup" in 2014.  Forty-one years ago, Sacheen Little Feather refused the oscar awarded to Marlon Brando for his performance in "The Godfather." Sacheen was permitted to make a brief speech where she outlined Brando's reasons for refusing the oscar. She stated that he could not accept the oscar due to Hollywood's poor treatment of Indians. Brando brilliantly used the oscars to highlight the  mistreatment of the occupiers currently at Wounded Knee as well as the misrepresentation of the American Indian in Hollywood films.  It's depressing how little has changed since Sacheen made her stand in 1973. It's depressing how mainstream America still clings desperately  to the racist stereotypes presented in this film. Few people realize that, as a result of helping Brando to raise consciousness about the treat ment of Native Americans, Sacheen lost her acting career.

Sacheen Little Feather at the Oscars

Chris Eyre summarized the problem with the Lone Ranger beautifully when he said. Johnny Depp's "Tonto" resembles nothing that is Native American in reality. “I literally don’t know what is Native American about Tonto.” He is correct. Tonto has nothing to do with Indians. Tonto has everything to do with what White America still needs Indians to be.

The original Lone Ranger narrative was a revisionist history that projects a fantasy of what White Americans need the Indian to be—a “faithful companion” to a white hero. The very existence of such a “faithful companion” is absurd and problematic for anyone with a grasp of the reality of Texas history. But, this isn’t a film for anyone with a consciousness of the ugly realities of American history. This is a film that is made for Whites, by Whites. Its function is not just to entertain. Its function is to use recognizable stereotypes to tell the white audience what they are not (guilty) and what they should aspire to be. (Godlike to the heathens).

The Lone Ranger can’t teach anyone about the reality of indigenous life, past or present, but it can reveal a lot about contemporary White anxieties and a guilty National conscience and an insatiable need for absolution from the victims of “progress.”

Depp’s Questionable Choices

It didn’t surprise any of the Native people I know that Johnny Depp behaved predictably as a typical “well-intentioned” white liberal. Despite his “adoption” and conflicting reports of a distant Cherokee, Creek or maybe Choctaw ancestor, Depp remains a member of the 1%. As Noam Chomsky elucidates in Manufacturing Consent, Depp is an elite cultural manager who must be heavily indoctrinated as to his role in American society. His consent to the dominant racial ideology is crucial. Depp has means. While he has no cultural connection to any tribal community, he does have the means to develop a reciprocal relationship with a tribal community that could help him to understand the error of trying to rehabilitate an inherently racist stereotype. Depp makes a bad decision to play Tonto based on the arrogance and ignorance of an outsider. Then, he compounds his error with a series of equally bad choices.

First, Depp decides he will play Tonto without soliciting input from cultural authorities and then he convinces himself that it is necessary and desirable to turn the racist stereotypes associated with Tonto on their head. He fails to realize that a stereotype turned on its head is still a stereotype. Next, Depp chooses to work for Disney, a well-documented vehicle for American racist ideology. Depp has the means to finance and produce a small independent film with Native American actors that could have educated and enlightened a small population as to the real history of Comancheria. He could have picked any number of crucial contemporary Indigenous issues from which to produce a documentary. He could have chosen to shines a light on present-day injustices. Instead, Depp chose to make an action-comedy about a period in Texas history when the Comanche were nearly exterminated by vigilante settlers.

Depp could have analyzed his desire to play this role. He could have examined what is lacking in his privileged existence that attracts him to this White Fantasy of Tonto. Predictably, Depp turns to the internet and finds what is always there for cultural outsiders to find. He finds what many white seekers mistake for authentic representations of indigenous people -- a White nuage artist imagining a Native person. He finds the sort of romanticized imagery that makes Native people cringe, yet fascinates outsiders like himself. Next, Depp does what all privileged whites have always done when confronted with criticism from Native people – he ignores them. Then he seeks out yes-men and sycophants to justify his error. When the movie turns out to be a box office flop, he throws money at the problem by offering to purchase the grave site of the Wounded Knee massacre from another White man who’s trying to sell it. When this gesture is not well received, he goes to Europe to promote the film to other cultural outsiders. Depp uses every device that a Plastic Shame-man would use to rationalize and justify his many errors in judgment. Depp mimics the behavior of a plastic shaman in every way -- except of course for pursuing frivolous lawsuits.  But the he has the influence of power of a multi-billion dollar corporation to use to convince the public that the Lone Ranger is a “tribute” to Indigenous people.

I saw this movie twice in a very liberal and enlightened Michigan college town. What shocked me the most about the film was the inability of the educated audience to see the racist ideology presented throughout the film especially in the fabricated back story that is supposed to explain Tonto’s decision to become a “faithful companion to a Texas ranger. There’s a deafening silence from the progressive community about the film and there’s been a noticeable lack of comments on Liberal newsletters and blog about the back story.

Depp’s biggest mistake was not to play Tonto as a human being. Without a cultural context, Depp mistakes the vertical lines in the face paint on the nuage painting as an indication that Tonto should be played as a “fragmented” individual. With this mindset, Depp seems to think he can construct a whole human being by simply adding existing stereotypes together into an incoherent mish-mash. Depp appropriates Comanche ethnic identity and uses it as a ridiculous costume in which to perform his standard, hackneyed physical comedy. He asserts his white privilege in using perceived spiritual practices for comic effect. He refuses to acknowledge how profoundly disrespectful this is.  Instead, he seeks out questionable “cultural advisers” who in an Al Jazeera interview insists that there are contemporary Native people who “talk exactly like Tonto.” In interviews, Depp laughably claims that Disney “went out of their way to portray Tonto in a positive light.”  The question is, positive to whom? Unfortunately, stereotypes sewn together like something out of a Tim Burton film, does not make a whole human being.

Depp makes Tonto seem even more absurd and ridiculous by wearing a taxidermied crow on his head and attempting to feed it and protect it from a cat by wearing a bird cage on his head. While I’m sure the Comanche did use crow feathers in a way similar to other tribes, the use of an entire crow carcass defies all logic. Depp’s incoherent justifications for this error in judgment make me think of James Arthur Ray’s logic. He was Oprah’s fraudulent self-help guru who murdered 3 people by trying to out-do the Indians and run a hellaciously hot perversion of a sweat lodge. The only sense I can make of the crow is that Depp was following the same misguided logic—If a Comanche warriors were known to wear single crow feathers in their scalp locks, then an entire dead crow will really legitimize me as a Comanche. 

Depp’s “Fragmented” Tonto

Tonto: The Specimen 

Depp begins his feeble effort to portray a Comanche by presenting a grotesque caricature of an elder. As the film opens, Tonto is presented to the viewer as a non-human object encased in glass as part of a “Wild West show”. Presented as an extinct species like the Buffalo, Tonto is a specimen, frozen in time and existing only for the edification of a young White boy. In 1933, Tonto would be in his 90s, but he still can’t speak English properly. He is presented along with extinct animals as a remnant of the American past. Tonto, as a dehumanized thing on display, wakes up only to be of use to a White person. The artifact Tonto is under the complete control of the dominant White society. This common fantasy reveals much more about the needs of the White audience than it does about Indians.

As the film progresses, Depp resurrects Tonto as the savage stereotype. He has no concept of a warrior as part of a sacred lifeway, so he can only present Tonto as a one-dimensional stereotype. Depp imagines a Warrior who is separated from any community who is entirely focused on violence and revenge. He is stupid, even though is bi-lingual. He is cowardly when faced with danger, even though he is supposed to be a warrior. Tonto is an incompetent guide and even more incompetent in trying to kill the demonic Butch Cavendish. He is entirely dependent on the Lone Ranger to act as his savior. Tonto is portrayed in a typically stereotypical fashion. He ogles White women, drinks whatever alcohol he can find and throws tomahawks while adopting the standard fierce savage pose.
Everything about this conception of Tonto belies the reality of the Comanche society. The stereotype erases the fact that the Comanche at the time were the greatest light Calvary in the world and they successfully defended their homeland against the Mexicans and the Texans. Only the incredible power of the U.S. government and the invention of the repeating rifle defeated the most powerful Native American Nation.

Portraying Tonto as the Lone renegade savage without a family or a tribal community reinforces the idea that White settlers were justified in the systematic dispossession o Comanche lands. Historically, there were no White saviors standing up for the human rights of the Comanche.  Depp reproduces the savage stereotype just to give the Lone Ranger something to compare himself to.

"Best make up" is actual Blackface

Another thing that seems to have escaped the notice of Depp’s liberal defenders is that he portrays Tonto in literal Blackface. It is unconscionable that the oscar committee could nominate a film for "best make up" that utilizes actual black face. Depp chose to play this role with white clown makeup and literal black paint on his face and around his eyes. The face paint makes him like a white actor being a buffoon in black face paint. On the scene on top of the train when Depp mugs for the camera with eyes bulging out, he seamlessly continues the tradition of the racist minstrel show. Depp’s Buffoonish antics done in Blackface is in no way a “tribute” to Native people. In the end, Depp is a white man with black paint on his face speaking in a mock dialect. There is no difference between this so-called entertainment and the entertainment style of the days of the Wild West shows and the minstrel shows. 

Disney’s Entertainment is Political

Disney has always been a major vehicle to convey the racial ideology of America.  Just as the Nazis used Nordic folklore to establish a National Aryan identity, Disney revised European fairy tales to teach White American children what it means to be White. (As a reference, please see the YouTube videos documenting Disney’s racism below.) Since the 1930s, Disney cartoons presented some of the most racist stereotypes which shaped the consciousness of American children for nearly a century.  In Peter Pan, What Makes the Redman Red, Native people are presented without faces, without individuality or humanity. We are depicted as primitive and superstitious creatures who behave in a nonsensical manner. We talk to horses and trees and the wind and we look more like animals than people. Native women are consistently depicted as over-sexed sq***ws who want nothing more than to abandon our own people to be with a white man. African Americans are depicted as savage cannibals or happy servants as in the Song of the South or as monkeys in Jungle book or as “Jim Crow” in cartoons. Asians in Disney films are depicted as sly and inscrutable and depicted as sneaky cats or other duplicitous creatures.

Because Disney whitewashes the truth of the American past and present, I do not allow my children to consume Disney media.  Disney dutifully re-creates the ideological legacy inherited from Manifest Destiny.  I strongly object to Disney because the cartoons and films teach young people to submit to the rule of the powerful elite; not to question the existing social order; and to distrust any proponent of collectivist values.

Perhaps the reason that White audiences don’t pick up on Disney’s racial ideology is that Americans have never been aware of their present-day racism.  In the 1930s, people watching Wild West shows that depicted wild Indians losing battle after battle to soldiers resembling Custer. They couldn’t see the racial ideology being promoted. Americans consuming what now seems as blatantly racist Disney cartoons, watching Step ‘n Fetch it minstrel shows, collecting racist kitsch and displaying lawn jockeys all claimed not to see any racism in the media of the day.  In the same way, contemporary Disney racism remains unperceived by contemporary American audiences.

While Disney has attempted to re-brand itself, and new "progressive" minded writers have replaced the old, the basic messages that Disney feeds the public about race, gender and class have not. Every racial group was stereotyped in the film.  Blacks, Asians and other immigrants are used as background. They are depicted as cowardly, passive and accepting of their status as “happy workers.” One thing I kept asking myself throughout the film is where are all the women? Women of color have no voice in this film. The nameless Chinese woman is depicted as a sinister pimp. Comanche women were entirely missing from the film. They were shown in only one scene and only as the dead. The only women in the film with any significant lines were white woman and they were divided into the patriarchal dichotomy of Madonna / whore. Female sexual slavery is depicted as something comical and empowering.  Red correctly states that the railroad required prostitution on order to function, but the film erases the real history of brutal forced prostitution of Mexican and Indigenous women that accompanied the railroad. Rebbecca is exalted as an innocent and pure white woman even though historically she would have most likely been a slave-owning confederate demanding the extermination of the Comanche along with the rest of the European settlers.  

Tonto: the Savage

The Cognitive Dissonance of the Windigo

Depp spends the majority of the film grunting, “Windigo getting away.”  When he meets the Lone Ranger, he is depicted as an inferior, incompetent and threatening savage who’s only mission in life is to kill the Windigo.  He perpetuates the present day stereotype of Native American men who take any action as threatening, violent thugs.  His white prince civilizes him by convincing him to abandon his misappropriated belief in Windigos.  The film promotes the Christian ideology that the savage must abandon his backward thinking and accept the Christina morality that forbids any act of revenge against an oppressor. Tonto is encouraged to accept the law as his only redress for past atrocities. The scary bad Indian has always been any Native male who take any action toward retribution. The good Indian passively accepts that he has no right to avenge wrongs perpetrated against him.

Growing up in Michigan, I heard many different versions of the Windigo story. I never heard one where a man fights or kills one. The Windigo story is a healing story that works on many levels. It’s basically a story about a man overcome by greed who eats too many beavers, or some other animal and transforms into a monster. Of course a cultural outsiders are going to pervert the story to be what they want it to be. In all the stories I’ve heard, the Windigo is redeemed by a female character. Either a woman or a group of women see the man underneath the monster. The Windigo is transformed back to a human being by unfreezing his frozen heart with hot grease or lard. The story teaches that while greed can transform a human being into a monster, there is a way to get back to your human self if you seek assistance from your tribal members.  The Windigo story is appropriated and made into an absurdity and quickly abandoned. The audience is expected to believe that Tonto held a belief in Windigos his whole life that he suddenly abandoned to spend his life being of service to a man hired by a government bent on the extermination of his remaining relatives.

The Othering of the Land

Even the land itself is depicted as cannibalistic.  This is an alien view to the Indigenous mind where Nature is in balance and the world of the European brings unbalance and disharmony to Nature.  In the light of the popularity of the Idle No More movement where Indigenous people all over the world are engaging in collectivist action to protect sacred sites and preserve the balance of the environment, it would do us all good to pay close attention to Disney’s demonization of the environment and utter silence on the actions of multi-national corporations that are destroying the environment. Where blame is laid is always a political statement.

Manifest Destiny Re-branded as Progress

Through-out the film, the word "progress" is used as code for Manifest Destiny. Disney merely re-cycles the same colonial attitudes of the 1950s without any regard for historical accuracy. The white hero eases the white audience's guilty consciences in the same way that churches, governments and all other Colonial institutions have always done -- attribute a deliberate campaign of mass genocide and exploitation of indigenous resources as an inevitable act by an invisible force. In the past, the genocidal crimes of Colonial governments was attributed to "God's will."  In the present, the causes are much more cosmic and undefined. The railroad is depicted as necessary to progress and the need to exterminate a race of people is made to seem inevitable. The genocide of the Comanche is  highly romanticized in this film. The Comanche are seen as tragic victims who are resigned to die in order to make room for the inevitable "progress" that the white race requires. The real brutality and savagery brought about by Colonial institutions that consciously and systematically worked together to exterminate a people to make way for white "progress" were completely erased. That is no accident. That is the type of "entertainment" that White America demands.

Apologists for the film, claim that people of conscience shouldn't be upset by the way Depp portrays Tonto because the film is fictional and never intended to about "real indians." What they conveniently omit it that the film depicts real individuals who really lived and died in what is known today as the state of Texas. The Texas Rangers are not fictional. They really existed. The railroad, the calvery, the Comanche Nation, the settlers. These are all part of real American history. However, the truth that is whitewashed in the film is that the Comanche people were hunted down and murdered by Texas Rangers. The “law” that the Lone Ranger believes in so zealously sanctioned the genocide of the Comanche people.  Genocide wasn’t even a work in the 1860s, and it certainly wasn’t a crime. The genocide perpetrated in the Americas was divine providence. Genocide wasn’t called a crime until white people murdered other white people during World War II.

Lone Ranger apologists that Disney is a mirror to the what America is really thinking. Disney is not a mirror.  It is a political machine. Its function has always been American holocaust denial.  This film reinforces the idea that White settlers, by virtue of their superior progress, should rightfully hold indigenous land and resources.  It erases the reasons for Comanche self-defense and attributes all evil and wrong doing to two White “bad apples” who are seen as a unique aberration, an anomaly, not like the rest of the settlers and soldiers at all. This is a very carefully crafted lie. This isn’t “just entertainment.” Disney has always force-fed generations of American children historical revisionism to justify the current racial hierarchy.

The Lone Ranger erases the accomplishments of Comanche. It ignores the fact that the US annihilated an advanced society in order to forge an easy path to California’s gold. The Comanche used the technology of the day, horses, better than any other people on the planet. They invented sustainable technology such as controlled burns to create an environment that was teaming with game. The U.S. annihilated an advanced society in a matter of decades. Disney covers it up in 149 minutes.

The film erases the Comanche-Kiowa-Apache alliances. It erases the fact that the majority of the white settlers were pro-slavery as were the Texas Rangers. It erased the intelligence and skill or Comanche warriors who formed alliances and created forms of democracy not seen in the white world. It erases the voices and the role of women in Comanche society and shows them only as dead sq**ws. It erases the fact that the Texas rangers were paid to murder Comanches. It erases the fact that the law so dearly embraced by the Lone Ranger did nothing to protect the human rights of the Comanche people. It erases the fact that the treaties were laws that the whites thought nothing about violating. It erases the fact that the official U.S. policy was removal and that removal was solely in the economic interests of the settlers and the very rich.

American Holocaust Denial

The mission of the Texas Rangers was the deliberate mass extermination of all indigenous peoples inhabiting Comancheria.  There were no laws to contain their savagery. They scalped Comanche people and mutilated the dead. They castrated corpses of men and small boys. They ripped open pregnant women’s and removed fetuses. They collected the private parts of women. They bragged about cutting out the heart of a sq**w and displaying it on a stick. There is nothing heroic about the Texas rangers. This savagery is not the work of a mystical demon, it was the deliberate systematic savagery of a Colonial empire. None of it was destined to occur. None of it was caused by mysterious cosmic forces.

What does it say about you if you need to romanticize Manifest Destiny? 

Journalist John L. O’Sullivan published this statement in the New York Morning News on December 27, 1845:

“…And the claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of  liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.

John Quincy Adams made this statement in 1811:

“The whole continent of North America appears to be destined to Divine Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles, and accustomed to one general tenor of social usages and customs. For the common happiness of them all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensible that they should be associated in one federal Union.”

South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun made this statement:

“We have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race.  To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind, of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that. Ours, sir, is the government of a white race.”

If the Lone Ranger were real, he would have thought and believed as the Texas rangers thought and believed. The Lone Ranger would have believed that Tonto was of a lesser race. All the Texas rangers of the 1860s were required to believe this. Not one of them  questioned the dogma of the day.  The Lone Ranger character is a deliberate lie meant to cover up a shameful past.


The Racist Back Story

It is extremely disturbing to me that not one person, Native or non-Native has expressed any outrage over the racist back story presented in this film. I was shocked to sit and watch a liberal audience, just eat up the assertion that a child could be responsible for the genocide of his entire village. It seems the effect and the intent of the racist back story behind The political agenda behind the Lone Ranger is to completely white-wash the real and brutal history of the attempted annihilation of hundreds of separate sovereign Native American Natoins, and to completely erase the collaboration of the church, the state and the military the corporations and the settlers in genocide. Instead, the audience if manipulated to focus on two "bad actors." The intent is to keep them from every learning about the oppressive Colonial institutions that formed their society, from ever analyzing them or holding them accountable for their present day atrocities. Every Disney story is about a single white "prince" who comes to the rescue of the main character without ever upsetting the existing unjust social order. Disney is about fantasy. It's about not questioning the order of things. It's about accepting hierarchy and waiting for a prince to come and save you. In real life there are no such princes.

The back story is a distraction to cover up the ugly collaboration between the Texas Rangers and the White settlers to exterminate the Comanche. The film allows the white audience to throw the real history of their ancestors down the memory hole. It allows them to exist in a state of blissful ignorance about how they came to have everything they now possess. America needs a non-threatening Tonto who will not remind them of the bloodshed and oppression that created their current privileged positions. Depp provides them with the fantasy they so desperately need to ease their guilty consciences. But that should come as no surprise since Depp has aided and abetted Disney in its racist propaganda for much of his career. He made enough money doing it to buy himself a Carribean island that is fairly close to the area where Columbus made his "discovery" of America.

In this film, Tonto is the instigator of his own people’s genocide. When I was this, I was disgusted that a ten-year old Comanche child was blamed for the systematic extermination of his village.  It is further asserted that this child would have been isolated from the rest of the Comanche tribe. This is ridiculous. The film makes a reprehensible political statement meant to erase the reality of Texas history. It’s even more infuriating to me that the racist back story is further justified by unintelligible references to nuage racial karma.

Americans need to believe that indigenous peoples DID something to bring about their own extermination. Such fantasies allow them to continue enjoying their un-earned privileges holding illusion of blamelessness. The only explanation I can come up with for this sick and twisted back story is that Americans need a Tonto to feel guilty for the history they can’t face –what their ancestors did to secure their present day privileges.

Tonto: The Vanished

Steiner Racial Ideology

This film is oozing with the racial doctrines of Rudolf Steiner. It manipulates the audience into believing that indigenous people were a races destined by some cosmic force for extinction in order to make room for the inevitable “progress” of the white race. The Comanches go to their deaths with resignation. The White race is depicted as the future, the “red race” is the past. These deliberate dichotomies prevent any deeper or analytical thought about the real events that transpired in Comancheria in the 1860s.  The American Indian Removal policies were studies and adapted by the Nazis in World War II. One of the founding fathers of Nazi racial ideology was Rudolf Steiner. Steiner cults are gaining increasing popularity in the United States today. His main points are presented over and over again in this film. Steiner believed that the white race is more morally advances and that extinction of the inferior races was an inevitable part of human evolution. He strongly believed that the red race must go extinct in order for the white race to evolve. The white race was the race of the future to Steiner. He believed that the evolution will not be peaceful and that violence between the races was necessary for the White race to evolve to higher levels. Today, the nuagers call it dimensions.  The Lone Ranger is the white protagonist who is depicted as a “spirit walker” a more spiritually evolved being than the Comanche who have the misfortune of being born into an inferior race that must submit to their own extinction in order for a grand cosmic plan to take place. In the 1860’s, it was God’s divine providence that requires extinction of inferior races, in the 1930s it was spiritual evolution, in the Lone Ranger it’s making room for progress. It’s never anyone’s fault, it’s always an unconquerable supernatural force.

Incoherence as a Political Tool 

Of all the irrational absurdities of this film, dumping the silver in the river is the hardest to understand.  Tonto’s entire purpose for being when we first meet him is to kill the Windigo, but when never even find out if the Windigo is killed in the new plan to dump the silver.  This act makes no sense at all. The Comanche were being systematically starved to death.  If there were a hero in this film, wouldn’t he put their stolen resources to good use? Why not buy food, clothing and the necessities of survival. Why not “buy back” the stolen lands? If the Lone Ranger is such a champion of “law and order” why not hire an army of attorneys to conduct a truth and reconciliation hearing to expose the racist genocidal policies of the military and the government. Why no use the silver to launch a campaign to regulate the exploitive railroads. Why not buy back all the slaves freedom with all that wealth?  Throwing it in the river in some incomprehensible symbolism makes no sense at all. But then, no one ever organizes for the collective good in a Disney film. One waits for a prince to come. One waits to see is one is destined become nobility.

Tonto: The Ghost

In the end of the film, Tonto, the specimen, packs his suite case, dresses as a Whiteman and walks into the Arizona desert. Tonto passes from 1 one-dimensional stereotype to the next for the entertainment of the White audience, but he is never seen as a whole human being. He has been animated only to tell the story of a fictional white male hero to another white male. He has become the ultimate good Indian – no longer any threat to white society. He waits in suspended animation until a white person needs him to tell a comforting lie and then he fades away. He has no needs, no family no cultural relationship and no context no existence. Nothing to threaten the status quo.
Depp may think he is giving Native Youth a depiction of a warrior that will empower them, but in actuality he has merely re-branded cultural imperialism.He is a walking embodiment of “End of the Trial” Kitsch animated by Disney. All the evils and excesses of the settlers and the Texas Militia Rangers are erased. There is so much historical revisionism, absurdity and deliberate incoherence that the viewer is incapable of learning anything significant about real Texas history. Deep has the means, the power and the privilege to do some real good in educating the American people about the current conditions of indigenous people all over the world struggling for their right to be indigenous and to live on lands they have always lived on. I guess Depp just doesn't have the character or convictions of a Marlon Brando.

Depp has made a lot of noise about paternalistically purchasing the Wounded Knee grave site for the "poor NDNZ", but as of this day he hasn't taken any action. Several traditional Lakota tried to reclaim the land legally by siting the 1868 Treaty of Laramie, but their efforts failed. There is no evidence that Depp offered the Lakota any assistance in undoing the treaty violations that allowed a white man to purchase their ancestors grave sites. With all his wealth and power, he could have brought the issue to national attention the way Marlon Brando's refusal of the oscar brought attention to corruption and exploitation on the Pine Ridge reservation. 

 Native people have been tweeting and pod casting all this week about a organizing a twitter storm during the Oscars on Sunday March 3, 2014 using the hashtag #NotYourTonto. It sounds like a good start, but Indigenous people need a lot more from people posturing as our allies. We need the respect and national voice that Marlon Brando gave to us. We need our treaties recognized as law. We need an investigation into the murders of the 57 American Indian Movement Activists who were murdered by GOONS armed and supported by the United States Government. We need real allies and real activists. Indigenous people don't need Hollywood sell-outs like Depp. We don't need Disney's lies about our history. We DO NOT need Tonto. A guilty and fearful white America does.

You can learn more my follow #WoundedKneeII and #NotYourTonto on twitter.
Please contact the White House and demand an independent investigation into the deaths of AIM activists killed between 1973 and 1975 on and around the Pine Ridge reservation.

Virginia AIM has done a good job of keeping up a list of murdered activists whose deaths have never been investigated.

Maybe Depp could do a film about these unsolved murders?

The Jazz Singer was not nominated for best make up in 1927. Yet the Lone Ranger was nominated for best make up in 2013. So much for historical progress.

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Gwynne, S.C. Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches. The Most Powerful Indian Tribes in American History. New York, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2010 (E99.C85P38352010)
Kavanaugh, Thomas, Comanche Ethnography. Field Notes of E. Adamson Hoebel Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. 2008.
Kiernan, Bob. Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Dafur. Yale University Press. 2007.
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Do They Honor or Constrain American Indian Identities?
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Native America Calling July 4, 2013 The Full Tonto
Native America Calling July 3, 2013 Tonto rides again Love Him or Lasso Him?
Psychological consequences of Stereotypes
Depp's Tonto: A Major Setback for the Native American Image

Sacheen Little Feather states her career was cut short because of her stand at the oscars
Marlon Brando on the Dick Cavett show after refusing the 1973 oscar
People booed because "I ruined their fantasy with the intrusion of a little reality."

American Holocaust (Full Documentary)
Native American Holocaust Exterminate Them! The California Story
Noam Chomsky Manufacturing Consent
Reverend Billy Protests the Disney store
Al Jazeera: Hollywood’s Native American Narrative
How Hollywood Stereotyped American Indians
What Makes the Red Man Red
Native Americans through the Eyes of My Children
Native American Indians in Cartoons - AMIND435
Racist Cartoon - Native American Stereotypes

Censored News: AIM casualties 1973 - 1975
Native Appropriations:
I saw The Lone Ranger of you don't have to
Does Johnny Depp's Tonto make The Lone Ranger a 'minstrel show'?
Lone Ranger: A Mess of a Show
Seeing Red: Hollywood's Pixeled Skins by Harvey Markowitz
Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian Part 1
Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian Part 2
Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian Part 3
Blackface: The History of Racist Blackface Stereotypes
STEINER RACISM - prevelant in the backstory
Staudenmeier, Peter. Race and Redemption: Racial and Ethnic Evolution in Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposopy. University of California Press. Published in Novo Religio : Vol. 11. No. 3. (February 2008) The Journal of Alternative Emerging Religions.
Steiner’s Racism – Waldorf Watch
Steiner Waldorf Schools Part 1-3 The Problem of Race
Skeptic Report: The Racial Teachings of Rudolf Steiner. 6/12/2005
The Quackometer: The Insidious Pervasiveness of the Cult of Rudolf Steiner. 7/5/2012

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