Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

March 15, 2014

Native Americans:'NO!' to Tiger Lily casting and stereotype

Tiger Lily in Peter Pan
Native Americans Demand Warner Brothers to Reconsider Casting of Rooney Mara for Role Of Tiger Lily in Peter Pan remake

By Jacqueline Keeler
Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry
Censored News

PORTLAND, Oregon – Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, a group of Native parents and their allies from across the country are asking Warner Brothers Pictures and director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna) to reconsider the casting of the actress Rooney Mara for the role of Tiger Lily. To this end they are conducting a “Twitterstorm” and have already trended the hashtag #NotYourTigerLily nationally to make their concerns about this historically problematic role of a Native American princess heard.
The depiction of a Native American tribe the Pickaninnies in the Disney version of Peter Pan is a regressive and stereotypical portrayal of Native American men as savages who speak in simple guttural speak and the portrayal of the silent "Indian Princess" Tiger Lily is also stereotypical and is one that most Native parents do not want their children to see. The Native parents of EONM were very disappointed that Disney chose to rerelease the film in 2013.
"What Disney tried to teach Native girls through Tiger Lily was that as native women, they were to accept violence and remain silent. They were shown that even as children they would be sexually objectified and that they needed to play into that role. They were taught that Natives were big "Spoofums" that could not be trusted and that they lacked the intelligence to protect them, that their only chance of rescue would come from the white man."
- EONM member Johnnie Jae (Jiwere-Nutachi/Chahta) Executive Managing Editor of Native Max and a freelance photographer
The recycling of such stereotypes in Hollywood history has not had a high
success rate as seen by the low box office figures of The Lone Ranger. Johnny Depp's attempt to remake Tonto, which earned him a Razzie was universally panned. We feel such attempts to rehabilitate controversial and racists tropes have a poor success record.
This leaves Native Americans like Jacqueline Keeler, a writer and an EONM member and Navajo/Yankton Sioux mother of two wondering "How will director Joe Wright achieve a Peter Pan remake that is 'international and multiracial' as he described in a recent interview by hiring a white actress to portray a character well-known to have been Native American in the original? Will he will be whitewashing the character and reducing the 'international and multiracial' quality of the film or be painting the actress in Redface? I am not sure which is worse--our erasure from stories or to have others 'Play Indian' today, in the 21st century 50 years after the March on Washington and the Civil Rights Movement."
EONM asks Warner Brothers Pictures and director Joe Wright to engage the Native American community in how the role of Tiger Lily will be portrayed.  They also call upon the studio, director and the actress Rooney Mara to reconsider the casting of the role.
The group EONM, has been fighting Redface in both media and in sports. They trended #NotYourMascot nationally during the Super Bowl and demanded and received an apology to Native parents and their children from Sonic Drive-in for a racist sign that appeared at a Sonic Drive-in in Belton, Missouri during a Washington Redsk*ns/Kansas City Chiefs game in December of last year. They also trended #NotYourTonto during the Oscars to protest the nomination of The Lone Ranger for makeup. Their goal is to eliminate the practice of Native Mascotry—the racist and stereotypical antics seen by fans at games dressed in Redface, and to improve the modern understanding of Native people and Indian Sovereignty to all Americans.

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