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"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:32
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Author:  Mike Graham
Bio: Mike Graham
Date:  October 26, 2007
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Topic category:  Other/General

'Hollywood Casting Call' Native Americans need not apply:

The last big TV show to film in Hawaii was Magnum PI, which included a main cast of three White men and one African American man, not to be confused with Three White men and a baby.

Have you watched a movie release lately starring a Native American actor as the main character? How about one cast in a supporting roll? The answer is, most likely not. For whatever reason, Hollywood seems to make it a point of not casting Native Americans in movies to include television network shows.

Over past decades it has become very noticeable that Native Americans are missing from the Hollywood entertainment industries big screen. They’re saying, how many Geronimo movies do they want us to make? Casting companies have pretty much locked themselves into having one White man, one White Woman, one Black man and one Gay oriented character in the line up of all movies. Hollywood sees nothing wrong with that, all the while knowingly turning its back on Native American actors.

It would seem that Hollywood is engaged in social engineering of our visual and mental outlook of the world through their present limited casting line up. In my younger days it was the Lone Ranger and Tonto, and a host of White men dressed up like Indians; today it's Mel Gibson and Danny Glover followed by a host of Black men side kick's to White men actors. Hollywood has always had a problem portraying Indians as the good guys.

When given a chance Native Americans like Russell Means, Cher, Valerie Red-Horse, Rodney Grant, Wes Studi, Burt Reynolds and Mr. Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, not only became big stars in America, they archived worldly fame. Elvis Presley was called a White man, said to sing like a Black man even though Elvis had Cherokee Indian heritage. Elvis made it a point in his film career to show his Indian heritage pride. The national media made it a point not to cover Elvis' Indian heritage. This was back in the days of when it was not cool to be Indian or go around telling people you had Indian heritage thanks to you know who - Hollywood.

For whatever reason, today it seems everyone is trying to claim their Indian heritage "Ah-choo" Casino Money. Hollywood though, is still not willing to bite the bullet or ready to bury the hatchet by casting Native Americans throughout its entertainment industries. To date, there has never been an all-Indian cast TV show. When it comes to television commercial casting, the closest thing related to Native Americans is a Jeep Cherokee commercial.

It's time for the Hollywood corporate heads to start including Native Americans in their casting calls. America is all about Native Americans; from the main land to Alaska and Hawaii they are there in living color. Hollywood is making its unwritten policy of racial exclusion plain for the entire world to see.

Actor Marlon Brando was a strong supporter of Hollywood bringing Native Americans into the film and television Industries. Marlon Brando's most public appeal for Indian rights came in 1973 when he won the Academy Award for best actor in The Godfather. Instead of appearing himself at the awards, he sent Sasheen Littlefeather to reject the Oscar and voice his anger over Hollywood's portrayal of Indians in films. In 1992, Brando called for his name to be removed from the credits for the film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery. Brando, who played Grand Inquisitor Torquemada said the finished film did not show the explorer's role in the "genocide obliteration" of Indians.

The last big TV show to film in Hawaii was Magnum PI, which included a main cast of three White men and one African American man, not to be confused with Three White men and a baby. Magnum PI aired for the better part of a decade and never added a Native Hawaiian actor to the main cast. Hollywood repeatedly shows that it only wants Native Americans portrayed in ancillary roles or as background props to create atmosphere in a western or tropical setting.

In 2005 FOX, NBC and ABC went to Hawaii to film new television series. Of all the main characters between the three shows, only one Native Hawaiian was cast. Each year the national television networks say they are committed to diversity in their programming. One would think that out of three new shows being filmed in Hawaii, the networks would include more than one Native Hawaiian actor in their main cast. United Native America called for a boycott over the issue. Two of the shows ended up being canceled. ABC's TV show Lost made the cut without any Native Hawaiian actors, so much for the word Aloha.

It's past time for the movie industries and TV networks to stop their stereo profiling and racial exclusion. It’s time to include Native Americans in casting line-ups and begin to portray them in everyday life as it is in our society today. The American public is more than willing to see Native Americans in leading roles. It's time for the networks to step up to the plate and clean up their racial attitude toward Native Americans. The Sundance Cable Network not withstanding; what can the film industry possibly gain by taking such a biased position against Native cultures? Whether deliberate, ignorant or indifferent, the out come of Hollywood's decisions are still the same: misrepresentation, exclusion, and degradation for Native peoples.

United Native America has an online petition calling for a national holiday for Native Americans and for an end to racial exclusion of Native Americans in movies and television leading roles. Please support these issues by signing the petition.

Web sites of Interest:

Mike Graham
United Native America (Founder)

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Biography - Mike Graham

Mike Graham is a citizen of the Oklahoma Cherokee Nation, a retired service connected disabled Army veteran. Founded United Native America in 1993 to form a national group to take action on American Indian issues. The groups main issue is to bring about a federal national holiday for Native Americans. United Native America's motto is, "Standing up for America and the American Indian community."

Graham has been a guest speaker on national and international radio talk shows to include television programs concerning Indian community issues, his reports on Indian issues have been published in newspapers all over America. He has traveled across the country discussing issues with Indian nation leaders, he has presented Indian issues at college's and high schools.

Read other commentaries by Mike Graham.

Visit Mike Graham's website at United Native America

Copyright © 2007 by Mike Graham
All Rights Reserved.

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