By Angela Aleiss
June 17, 2013
As The Lone Ranger heads for the big screen this summer, many Native Americans are questioning Disney’s campaign to court their approval. They believe that the studio’s public relations gestures mask the real issues of the marketing and identity of indigenous people.
The movie, which stars Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger, will hit theaters July 3. Depp has enjoyed a long relationship with the film’s director Gore Verbinski and its producer Jerry Bruckheimer through Disney’s record-breaking Pirates of the Caribbean series.Â The megastar is also one of The Lone Ranger’s executive producers, and his production company Infinitum Nihil (Latin for “Infinite Nothing”) was involved with the picture.
But Depp’s claims of Cherokee heritage (put forth in 2002 on Inside the Actors’ Studio, although in 2011 Â speaking to Entertainment WeeklyÂ he added “or maybe Creek”) along with his streaked black-and-white painted face and a stuffed crow perched atop his head have caused many to cry foul. Still, others say that Disney—which has a long history of working with Native Americans—is not adequately addressing their issues.