In a move that is likely to spark discussion, the Comanche Nation has officially adopted Johnny Depp into its family in celebration of his role as Tonto in the upcoming film adaptation of The Lone Ranger.
LaDonna Harris, the Comanche president and founder of Americans for Indian Opportunity, lauded Depp’s “historic” portrayal of full-blooded Comanche Tonto in Disney’s Western reboot (opposite Armie Hammer as the titular cowboy).
“It seemed like a natural fit to officially welcome him into our Comanche family,” said Harris in a press release (ICTMN broke the story earlier today). “I reached out, and Johnny was very receptive to the idea. He seemed proud to receive the invitation, and we were honored that he so enthusiastically agreed. Welcoming Johnny into the family in the traditional way was so fitting. He’s a very thoughtful human being, and throughout his life and career, he has exhibited traits that are aligned with the values and worldview that Indigenous peoples share.”
Harris hosted the ‘adoption’ ceremony last week at her home in Albuquerque, where Depp, Comanche Nation chairman Johnny Wauqua and other AIO staff and family members were in attendance. After Depp was given a Comanche name in the private ceremony, he provided gifts to the attendees, as is tradition.
The backing by the native group is certainly a vote of confidence for Disney’s Lone Ranger, which has seen various American Indian camps split on the subject after the first photo of Depp in full makeup was revealed. (See some pro and con arguments here and here.) With the Gore Verbinski-helmed movie slated for a release on May 13, 2013, more organizations and groups will no doubt lend their opinions to the topic as visuals from the film surface in the coming months.