When producer Jerry Bruckheimer released a photo of Johnny Depp in costume as Tonto for this summer’s upcoming blockbuster The Lone Ranger they both received a lot of criticism for what many called an exaggerated and inaccurate rendition of the Comanche Indian he’s suppose to play. But now, as of last week, Depp is an honorary member of the Comanche tribe.
Comanche Nation tribal member LaDonna Harris told CBS she had read in interviews that Depp identified himself as being part Native American, so she thought it would be fun to adopt him – a tradition she says is common in Comanche culture. Harris got the go ahead from her sons and then proceeded to contact Depp through a friend who is working as a cultural consultant on the upcoming film.
On May 16th, the tribal chairman presented Depp with a proclamation at Harris’ Albuquerque home. She said the Comanche adoption tradition means she now considers Depp her son.
Some people are still feeing uneasy about the Depp’s portrayal of an American Indian on film.
"It’s really complicated for me," Adrienne Keene, a Cherokee writer who blogs under Native Appropriations told E Online. Harris is "very well respected in Indian country. But my reaction is mixed, because I feel like others will say the adoption excuses Johnny from any sort of criticism for his portrayal of Tonto."
The Comanche Nation is based in Lawton, Okla. About half of its 15,000 members live in southwestern Oklahoma.
Depp identifies in real life as part Cherokee and Creek Indian, based on a Kentucky great-grandmother’s ancestry.