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Adam Sandler Irks Shelly

Adam Sandler Irks Shelly
April 24
14:29 2015

Adam Sandler on location in New Mexico

By John Christian Hopkins

First it was Kim Jong Un and “The Interview,” now Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly is upset by Adam Sandler’s “The Ridiculous Six.”

“Our Native American culture and tradition is no joking matter,” Shelly said.

Shelly is appalled by the Native American stereotypes in the Sandler film, which is still in production. A dozen Navajo actors walked off the set Wednesday, citing concerns over a “gross misrepresentation” of Apache culture and “derogatory dialogue” against native women.

“I applaud these Navajo actors for their courage and conviction to walk off the set in protest,” Shelly said. “Native people have dealt with negative stereotypes on film for too long. Enough is enough.”

The actors were also disgusted with female character names like Beaver’s Breath and No Bra. In one scene an actress playing an Apache squats and urinates while smoking a peace pipe.

Navajo actress Allison Young said she “felt so conflicted.” Some of the native actors spoke to the producers, she said. They were told if they were that sensitive they should just leave, she added.

“Nothing has changed. We are still just Hollywood Indians,” Young said.

The producers were being disrespectful, Choctaw actor David Hill agreed.

“But let me tell you, our dignity is not for sale,” Hill said.

While portrayals of Native American characters have been an issue ever since Hollywood began – like Dustin Farnum’s “The Squaw Man” in 1912 – one is left to wonder whether any of the outraged actors or the Navajo president has ever seen an Adam Sandler film.

Sandler’s stock in trade is sophomoric, crude humor based on bodily functions and gross exaggeration.

You don’t go to an Adam Sandler movie expecting Shakespearean repartee and thoughtful themes.


Pres. Ben Shelly

“The Ridiculous Six” is a western spoof of “The Magnificent Seven,” in addition to Sandler it will feature Nick Nolte, Taylor Lautner, Steve Buscemi, Luke Wilson and Rob Schneider.

But, regardless of the comedic nature of the film, such disrespect against Native Americans is uncalled for in this day and age, Shelly insisted.

The Navajo Nation Office of Broadcast Services ensures cultural accuracy in scripts for films and commercials produced on the reservation.

Such stereotypes and racially discriminatory characterizations are not filmed on Navajo land.

Kee Long, program manager for NNOBS, said his staff reviews proposed scripts that are sent to the office for film licenses.

“We had a script not too long ago, from a French company that was doing a film on alcoholism,” Long said. The script was a portrayal of the Sioux Nation. Long asked the production company why they did not film on Sioux tribal lands. He was not provided an answer and the production did not take place.

For Navajo subject matter, the NNOBS staff verify proper portrayal. They coordinate with the respective tribal departments to verify accuracy, according to Long.

“Two independent filmmakers submitted a script for filming recently on the tribal dog population. We coordinated with the Navajo Fish and Wildlife Department and Animal Control for review of the script,” Kee said.

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