Long Otter, by Richard Throssel

Long Otter, by Richard Throssel

Johnny Depp’s Tonto, Continued: Some Indians Did Wear Birds on Their Heads

A tip of the cap to Indian Country Today Media Network user bigbppr, who left this helpful comment on our most recent Johnny Depp story:

"Apsaroke Indians wore a full bird as part of their headdress. There are 2 photos in the book of Edward S. Curtis photographs entitled The Great Warriors."

The poster is right. Some Indians did wear birds on their heads.

For the media and bloggers — including ICTMN, Native Appropriations, and now Gawker — who've been scrutinizing Depp's costume and his public statements about it, what does this mean? Most importantly, what does it mean to you? If the bird on Tonto's head has a precedent in American Indian culture — any American Indian culture — does that make the costume any more palatable to those who've objected to it thus far?

We'll leave that to the readers, and simply present the images, found at the Library of Congress archive of Curtis' The North American Indian, and described there as of Apsaroke (Crow) Indians:

Medicine Crow by Edward Curtis Two Whistles by Edward Curtis

Here's another relevant picture, of another Indian identified as Crow, taken by Richard Throssel. Throssel was a student of Edward Curtis, and one-quarter Cree, and this image comes from archives at the University of Wyoming:

Long Otter by Richard Throssel

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