On Wednesday, about a dozen Native American actors walked off the set of The Ridiculous Six, a film being made by Adam Sandler through his production company Happy Madison and intended for a Netflix release. The actors objected to elements of the screenplay and action that they found stereotypical, offensive and demeaning. Ben Shelly, President of the Navajo Nation, has come out in support of the actors, saying in a statement that “Our Native American culture and tradition is no joking matter. … Enough is enough.”
The full statement from the Navajo Nation is below:
President Shelly expresses discontent with Native stereotypes in Sandler film
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz.— Native American stereotypes in film must end.
Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly was appalled to hear about the negative portrayal of Native Americans in the Adam Sandler film, The Ridiculous Six, currently in production.
Several Navajo actors walked out on the production earlier this week after gross misrepresentation of the Apache culture and derogatory dialogue against native women.
They were also disgusted with female character names like Beaver’s Breath and No Bra.
Regardless of the comedic nature of the film, President Shelly said such disrespect against Native Americans is uncalled for in this day and age.
“Our Native American culture and tradition is no joking matter. I applaud these Navajo actors for their courage and conviction to walk off the set in protest,” President Shelly said. “Native people have dealt with negative stereotypes on film for too long.
“Enough is enough,” he added.
The Navajo Nation Office of Broadcast Services ensures cultural accuracy in scripts for films and commercials produced on the Nation. Such stereotypes and racially discriminatory characterizations are not filmed on Navajo land.
Kee Long, program manager for NNOBS, said his staff review proposed scripts that are sent to the office for film licenses.
“We had a script not too long ago, from a French company that was doing a film on alcoholism,” Long said.
The script was a portrayal of the Sioux Nation. Long asked the production company why they did not film on Sioux tribal lands. He was not provided an answer and the production did not take place.
For Navajo subject matter, the NNOBS staff verify proper portrayal. They coordinate with the respective tribal departments to verify accuracy.
“Two independent filmmakers submitted a script for filming recently on the tribal dog population. We coordinated with the Navajo Fish and Wildlife Department and Animal Control for review of the script,” Kee said.
The Navajo Nation does not allow racially discriminatory scripts to be filmed on Navajo land.