Comanche Nation Officially Adopts Johnny Depp

The actor has said he wants to subvert American Indian stereotypes with his portrayal of Tonto in "The Lone Ranger"

By Sam Schulz
|  Tuesday, May 22, 2012  |  Updated 2:03 PM EDT
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Johnny Depp has been officially adopted by the Comanche Nation for his work as Tonto in "The Lone Ranger."

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Johnny Depp isn't just playing a Comanche in his update of "The Lone Ranger." He's now one in real life, too.

The New Mexico-based tribe formally adopted the actor after learning that he would be revamping the character of Tonto, the Lone Ranger's loyal sidekick, in the upcoming movie.

In the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced, Gore Verbinski-directed big-screen take on the small-screen series, Depp has given Tonto a Comanche background — a move that resonated with one prominent Comanche leader, LaDonna Harris.

The Comanche Nation welcomed Depp into the fold last week with a ceremony at which Depp gave attendees, among them Harris and Comanche Nation Chairman Johnny Wauqua, gifts as per tradition, news website Indian Country reported.

“Welcoming Johnny into the family in the traditional way was so fitting,” Harris told the site. “Throughout his life and career, he has exhibited traits that are aligned with the values and worldview that Indigenous peoples share.”

Depp told Entertainment Weekly last month why he chose to portray Tonto the way he has.

“The whole reason I wanted to play Tonto is to try to [mess] around with the stereotype of the American Indian that has been laid out through history, or the history of cinema at the very least — especially Tonto as the sidekick, the Lone Ranger’s assistant,” he said. “As you'll see, it's most definitely not that."

"The Lone Ranger," which stars Armie Hammer in the lead role, is currently shooting in Monument Valley, the spot along the Utah-Arizona border that John Ford turned into the iconic backdrop for location-shot westerns.

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