I am #NotYourTonto, complementary to #NotYourMascot, references Gore Verbinski’s July 2013 movie The Lone Ranger, which has been nominated for best makeup in this year’s Academy Awards.
The hashtag will be used starting Saturday evening before the Oscars on Sunday to protest Johnny Depp’s depiction of Tonto, the Lone Ranger’s Native sidekick, as a poor example of how Hollywood is “playing Indian.”
The protest is being organized by Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, a group that started on Facebook to campaign against inappropriate Native images in the media, film and sports.
“There is a double standard regarding Native people and this dehumanizes us to our fellow Americans and reduces their actual knowledge of who we are today,” wrote Jacqueline Keeler, one of the groups members in an email to ICTMN. “Very few of those engaging in Redface understand we are sovereign nations and this leads to confusion regarding public policy and funding for education and healthcare in our communities and the creation of bad laws and bad judicial decisions.”
Redface, Keeler said, is the static image of the mascot with the pageantry and antics of fans (i.e. dressing up in Redface, war chants, tomahawk chops). “As part of our continued focus on Redface and its continued acceptance by Americans, we are conducting a social media protest of The Lone Ranger’s Oscar nomination for Redface. No film today would be nominated for an award for Yellowface or Blackface,” Keeler added.
A series of images created by WhatTribe artists Douglas Miles and Jonathan Nelson will be used in the #NotYourTonto Twitter feed.
On @WhatTribe’s Twitter timeline under “Don’t Call Me Tonto,” many of those images were created over the last year as a statement of defiance and protest against stereotypes and racist images of Natives in film and media. I’m Not Your Mascot is working with EONM and has begun a list of ready-made tweets for people to cut, paste and send out.
More than a decade ago, writer and filmmaker Sherman Alexie, Spokane/Coeur d’Alene, told the Los Angeles Times in the Op-ed “I Hated Tonto (Still Do) that “In the movies, Indians are always accompanied by ominous music. I always feel that something bad is about to happen. I am always aware of how my whole life is shaped by my hatred of Tonto. Whenever I think of Tonto, I hear ominous music.”