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This month TV ACRES looks at:
 

...The American Indian

    Let's face it, the American Indian has been dealt a lousy hand. From the introduction of European settlers in the 15th century through the 20th century, the American Indians were forced to loose their lands, their religion, and their culture to make way for a "better" more "politically correct" culture that we now call the "American Dream." Since I don't have the ability to change what has happened, I can at least acknowledge their existence and contributions on television. 

The following select list of shows portrays how Hollywood has depicted the American Indians on television from the 1940s to the present. The depictions range from the Indians living on the plains before and soon after the arrival of settlers, to their Wild West days in the late 19th century, to the present day as either assimilated Indians working in American society or Caucasians who claim Indian ancestry. 

BORN TO THE WIND/NBC/1982
*(Will Sampson) Painted Bear, leader of a group of North American plains Indians living on the frontier in the early 1800s. Additional cast included Linda Redfearn as Painted Bear's squaw, Prairie Woman; Rose Portillo as his daughter, Star Fire; Guillermo San Juan as his teenage son, Two Hawks; Dehl Berti as One Feather, the medicine man; and A Martinez and Emilio Delgado as Indian braves Low Wolf and White Bull.
 
BRAVE EAGLE/CBS/1955-56
*(Keith Larsen) Brave Eagle, a young Cheyenne Indian chief who lived in the Black Mountain region of Wyoming in the 1860s. The series depicted the struggles of the Indians from their viewpoint. Other cast included Keena Nomkeena as Keena, Brave Eagle's foster son; Kim Winona as Morning Star, Brave Eagle's love interest; and Bert Wheeler as Smokey Joe, a wise, old half-breed. The series was also titled BRAVE EAGLE: CHIEF OF THE CHEYENNE.
 
BROKEN ARROW/NBC/1956-60
*(Michael Ansara) Cochise, leader of the Apache Indians living on the Chiricahua Reservation in the Arizona Territory of the l800s. Cochise helped maintain a tenuous peace between his people and the local "white eyes" with the assistance of U.S. Indian agent, Tom Jeffords. The series was based on the novel Blood Brother by Elliot Arnold. Michael Ansara was a Shakespearean-trained actor of Lebanese descent. In a 1960 interview with TV GUIDE, Ansara stated that Cochise's "acting range was rather limited. Cochise could do one of two things-stand with his arms folded, looking noble; or stand with arms at his sides, looking noble".
CHIEF HALFTOWN/ABC/1950's++
*(Chief Traynor Ora Halftown) Chief Halftown, a full-blooded Indian who hosted Philadelphia's longest running kiddy show CHIEF HALFTOWN (aired on WFIL and later WPVI) from the 1950s to the present. Traynor O. Halftown grew up in Buffalo about 25 miles from the Senaca reservation. On camera he always dressed in full Indian costume which included a full feathered chief's hat, buckskin, beads and bangles. Part of the program (once sponsored by "Bosco" Chocolate syrup) featured lessons about tribal customs, folklore, sign language, chants, and crafts. Last seen on Saturday mornings at 7:00 A.M. on Channel 6 WPVI-TV, he still ended his program with the his classic Indian farewell sign-off (phonetically) "E-Sah-Sah-Suss-A-way." TRIVIA NOTE: The Senaca tribe was an Iroquoian tribe in Western New York, the most powerful of the Five Nations which included a confederation of Mohawk, Oneida, Onandaga, Cayuga and Senaca-later joined by the Tuscarora.
 
DANIEL BOONE/NBC/1964-70
*(Ed Ames/costar) Mingo, an Oxford educated Cherokee Indian and close friend of frontiersman Daniel Boone in the days before the Revolutionary War. Ed Ames accidentally created a classic comedy blooper when he appeared on THE TONIGHT SHOW in the 1960s. His role of Mingo required that he throw a tomahawk on the series, so he began to give a "how-to" demonstration assisted by talk show host Johnny Carson. Ames' throw however, landed in the groin area of the practice target. To this Johnny Carson remarked "I didn't even know you were Jewish!" During the 1968-69 season, the Mingo character was replaced by a Negro Indian named Gideon played by Don Pedro Colley.
 
F TROOP/ABC/1965-67
**(Frank de Kova) Chief Wild Eagle, leader of a peaceful tribe of Hekawi indians who lived on the Kansas Frontier of the 1860's. As he often said "Hekawi's not fighters...invent peace pipe. Hekawi's not mad at Nobody!" Don Diamond appeared as the chief's second-in-command, Crazy Cat who often reminded the chief that he was the heir apparent to the tribe's leadership. Cameo appearances included Edward Everett Horton as the tottering medicine man, Roaring Chicken; Phil Harris as a 147-year-old Flaming Arrow; Don Rickles as the ridiculous Bald Eagle; and Milton Berle as a crooked Indian detective, Wise Owl. The Hekawi Indians did a rather lucrative black market trading business, supplying beads, trinkets, blankets to con-man/hustler, Sgt O'Rourke, a Cavalry officer stationed in the nearby frontier outpost known as "Fort Courage. To complement the Hekawi's apparent cowardice, the series featured a ferocious tribe of neighboring Indians known as the Shugs.
GO GO GOPHERS/CBS/1968-69
*(Cartoon Characters) Set in the West of the 19th century, this cartoon series featured the adventures of two gopher Indians, the double-talking Ruffled Feather (Sandy Becker) and his interpreter Running Board (George S. Irving). Their constant adversary was U.S. Cavalry Colonel Kit Coyote (Kenny Delmar) who in the tradition of the U.S. Cavalry, sought to eradicate the gopher population. However, the superior cunning of these gopher Indians always foiled the Colonel's plans.
 
GUESTWARD HO!/ABC/1960-61
*(J. Carrol Naish/costar) Chief Hawkeye, a conniving American Indian and owner of a local trading Post located in New Mexico. The only store for miles, he supplied the dude ranch "Guestward Ho" with life's little necessities at the going rate...his. Hawkeye's avocation was trying to return the country back to its rightful owners...the Indians. Pink Cloud (Jolene Brand) assisted Hawkeye in selling his wares, which included authentic Indian trinkets made in Japan. J. Carrol Naish was an Irish actor who had played a variety of ethnic roles including a Chinese detective on THE NEW ADVENTURES OF CHARLIE CHAN; and an Italian immigrant on LIFE WITH LUIGI.
 
HAWK/ABC/1966
*(Burt Reynolds) Det. Lt. John Hawk, a full-blooded Iroquois Indian employed by the New York City District Attorney's office. He worked the night shift with his partner, Detective Dan Carter. Burt Reynolds was in reality part Indian. His grandmother was a Cherokee.
 
HAWKEYE/SYN/1994-95
**(Rodney A. Grant) Chingachgook, stoic Delaware Indian who befriended a frontier scout named Hawkeye based at Fort Bennington in New York's Hudson River Valley of 1755. Together they battled the hostile tribes of Huron Indians. The series was based on James Fenimore Cooper's "Leatherstocking Tales."
 
HOWDY DOODY/NBC/1947-60
**(Bob Keeshan) Featherman, Chief of the Sycapoose indian tribe who lived near the town of Doodyville. Three tribes of Indians regularly appeared on this popular children's program including the Sycapoose, the Ooragnak, and the Tinka Tonka's. Bob Keeshan played a dual role of Featherman and Clarabell the Clown, so the two characters were never seen on camera at the same time. When Featherman was heard approaching, Clarabell the clown would get afraid and run off stage thus conveniently paving the way for the appearance of Featherman. The Tinka Tonka's tribal representative was Princess Summerfallwinterspring, one of the few females on the show. The Princess, originally a puppet, was transformed into a real person namely Judy Tyler, an attractive Broadway singer took on the role of the now human Princess. Unfortunately, Tyler died in a car accident with her husband July 4, 1957 while on leave from the show. Her part was never recast. The Ooragnak Indians (Kangaroo spelled backwards) were the more hostile of the three tribes. Their villainous leader, Chief Thunderthud was played by Bill Le Cornec. His favorite remark was a boisterous "KOWA-BONGA!" Howdy Doody, the puppet star of the series, eventually tamed the wild ways of the chief. Thunderthud thereafter became the most popular Indian in Doodyville.
 
LAW OF THE PLAINSMAN/NBC/ABC/1959-62
*(Michael Ansara) Sam Buckheart, a full-blooded Apache Indian who took on the responsibilities of Deputy U. S. Marshal in the New Mexico Territory of the 1880's. Educated in Harvard with monies inherited from a grateful Cavalry officer he had once known, Sam Buckheart returned to his childhood homeland near Sante Fe with hopes of serving his people and upholding the Constitution of the U.S.A. He worked under the supervision of Marshal Andy Morrison. See also BROKEN ARROW.
 
THE LONE RANGER/ABC/1949-57
*(Jay Silverheels/costar) Tonto, a young American Indian from the Potawatomi tribe who discovered the wounded body of Texas Ranger John Reid, the lone survivor of an outlaw ambush. After Reid recovered, Tonto became his faithful companion battling evil in the old American west. Tonto called the Lone Ranger "Kemo Sabe" which means "Trusty Scout" or "Faithful Friend" (The term was derived from the name of a boys camp called "Kee-mo-Sah Bee"). Jay Silverheels, a real Mohawk Indian and the son of a Mohawk chief, was born in Ontario, Canada in 1920 at the Six Nation's Indian Reservation. During the 1930's he was encouraged by actor/comedian Joe E. Brown to consider a movie career. He later went to the United States on a Golden Gloves boxing tour and became a leading contender in that sport. While there, he began acting in the movies. His first film was Captain From Castille (1947) followed by Key Largo (1948), Yellow Sky (1949), The Cowboys & The Indians (1949). While he starred as Tonto on THE LONE RANGER series, his movie roles continued in Broken Arrow (1950), and Walk the Proud Land (1956). He made cameo appearances on a variety of TV commercials in the 1960 and 1970s. The character of Tonto debuted on the 10th episode of the radio version of THE LONE RANGER series in the 1930's. His voice was supplied by John Todd. In the subsequent movie spin-offs, Tonto was played by Victor Daniels, a full-blooded Cherokee, with a stage name of Chief Thundercloud. In the summer of 1979 Jay Silverheels was the first North American Indian to be honored on the Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame His star was placed between MacDonald Carey and Frank Sinatra. Jay Silverheels died March 5, 1980 from pneumonia and multiple complications.
 
NAKIA/ABC/1974
*(Robert Forster) Deputy Nakia Parker, an American Indian caught between modern technology and ancient Indian customs who worked as a law enforcement officer in Davis County, New Mexico. John Tenorio, Jr. appeared as Half Cub, an American Indian.
 
NORTHERN EXPOSURE/CBS/1990-95
**(Darren E. Burrows) Ed Chigliak, a movie obsessed Native American teen living in the small town of Cicely, Alaska who helped a newcomer doctor adjust to culture shock by translating the peculiarities of the people of this small northern town. Later in the series, Ed studies to be a Shaman. Born September 12, in Wichita, Kansas, Burrows is one-quarter Cherokee and one-quarter Apache. To get the part for the series he dyed his dish-water blond hair dark. Another Native American cast member was Elaine Miles who played Marilyn Whirlwind, a short, plump and pragmatic Eskimo woman of few words who volunteered to help yuppie Dr. Joel Fleischman run his rural medical office. Born April 7th, in Pendleton, Oregon, Elaine Miles (half Cayuse and half Nez Perce) was raised outside the Seattle area as a member of the Umatilla tribe. Elaine's mother, Armenia Miles, played the role of Mrs. Anku, Ed's Chigliak's aunt and wife of the local medicine man. Other Native American cast members included Julian Fox as Indian Chief Ronkonkoma; Frank Sotonoma Salsedo as Ed's Uncle Anku; William J. White as Dave, the tavern cook; Floyd Red Crow Westerman as "One Who Waits," a wise old spirit seen only by the Indians; Dana Andersen as Lightfeather, a red-haired preacher's daughter; Rosetta Pintado as Mrs. Noanuk, a tribal elder; Bryson Liberty as Ira Wingfeather, a flute carver; and Graham Green as Leonard Quinhagak, Marilyn's cousin, a Shaman healer. The Indians on the program celebrated Thanksgiving as the "Day of the Dead" with traditional costumes, parades and throwing tomatoes at white people. On episode "Our Tribe" Mrs. Noanuk initiated the Jewish Dr. Fleischman into their Indian tribe and called him "Heals With Tools."
RANGO/ABC/1967
*(Guy Marks/costar) Pink Cloud, a cowardly American Indian who preferred the white man's life style of comfort vs. teepee living. He is the assistant to an inept Texas Ranger named Rango stationed at Deep Wells Ranger Station in the late 1800s. Pink Cloud is also the name of a character which appeared on the sitcom GUESTWARD HO!
 
RED RYDER/SYN/1956
*(Louis Letteri/costar) Little Beaver, a young American Indian companion and sidekick to the western lawman, Red Ryder. Little Beaver's catchphrase was "You betchum, Red Ryder". This 30-minute western was based on the radio program of the same name.
 
STAR TREK VOYAGER/UPN/1995-2001
*(Robert Beltran/costar) Chakotay, Starship First Officer of North American Indian descent stationed aboard the starship Voyager. Once the leader of the terrorist group called The Maguis, Chakotay joined forces with a Federation starship Captain to return to the Alpha Quadrant (after being transported against their will across the galaxy). Chakotay sported a triangular shaped tattoo over his left eye. He wore the tattoo to honor his father (played by Henry Darrow), who wore the same tattoo design to honor his ancestors, The Rubber Tree People of Central America. Chakotay was inspired to get his tattoo when his father was killed by the Cardassians. The episode entitled "Tattoo" explained the story behind the tattoo and his ancestors who were once visited by an alien race 45,000 year ago. These aliens, referred to as the Sky People, visited a nomadic Eskimo tribe on Earth and influenced their development. The tribe eventually migrated to the rain forest and became The Rubber Tree People. From time to time the Sky People revisited Earth to see how the Indian tribe was progressing. In honor of their outer space benefactors, the Rubber Tree People adopted the Sky People's triangular tattoo as a tribal symbol. NOTE: On episodes No. 152 "Descent-Part 1" of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION/SYN/1987-94 a starship USS Crazy Horse was mentioned. It took its name from Crazy Horse, the Lakota Sioux chief, and one of the important North American Indian leaders at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
 
TWIN PEAKS/ABC/1990-91
**(Michael Horse) Deputy Tommy "The Hawk" Hill, longhaired American Indian policeman working in the Pacific Northwest community of Twin Peaks. Hawk, the son of a Zuni Shaman, was very wise with the heart of a poet. Michael Horse's heritage actually was a combination of Yaqui and Apache Indian, Swedish and Hispanic.
 
THE UNTOUCHABLES/ABC/1959-63
**(Abel Fernandez) Agent William Youngfellow, a full-blooded Cherokee Indian working with the elite squad of undercover federal policemen (U.S. Treasury Dept) known as "The Untouchables" whose job was to bust the organized crime syndicates of Chicago in the 1930s.
 
VEGA$/ABC/1978-81
**(Will Sampson) Chief Harlon Two Leaf, a pony-tailed American Indian who occasionally helped private investigator, Dan Tanna track down clues and criminals amidst the glitter of Las Vegas, Nevada. In April, 1987 at the age of 53 years, this 6 foot 2 inch tall Native American Indian awaited a heart-lung transplant at Methodist Hospital in Houston. He suffered from Scleroderma, a degenerative disease.
 
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER/CBS/1993-2001
*(Chuck Norris) Cordell Walker, a half-white/half-Indian modern day Texas Ranger raised by his Native American Uncle Ray (played by Floyd Red Crow Westerman) after Cordell's father died. Walker's Cherokee family nickname is "Washoe" meaning "Lone Eagle." Walker's parents were killed by bigoted white men who hated seeing a white man married to an Indian woman.
 

YANCY DERRINGER/CBS/1958-59
*(X Brands/costar) Pahoo-Ka-Ta-Wah, a silent Pawnee American Indian sidekick of gambler/adventurer Yancy Derringer who operated out of the city of New Orleans in the 1800's. Pa-hoo-Ka-Ta-Wah meant "Wolf who stands in water". Although he was short on talk, he was long on action. Beneath a blanket wrapped about his body, he carried a shot-gun which he used in emergencies. Most of the time however, he used a throwing knife sheathed on his upper back to subdue the bad guys when the situation warranted it. Jay X Brands (his full name) was once honored by Brummett Echohawk, a spokesman for the Pawnee Indians when a letter to Hollywood producers commended Brands (a Caucasian of German-Dutch descent) for his authentic performance and his ability at speaking the tribe's language.

BONUS

KEEP AMERICA BEAUTIFUL CAMPAIGN (TV AD)
*(Chief Iron Eyes Cody) Chief Iron Eyes Cody, a Cree-Cherokee Indian and activist, who starred in a "Keep America Beautiful" public service campaign commercial (a coalition of companies involved in glass, aluminum, paper, plastic, tobacco and solid-waste) with the Chief surveying the wonders of Nature only to find them filled with pollution. In the now classic scene, the camera zoomed into follow the trail of single tear that flowed from the Chief's eye as he lamented the scarred landscape. This ad spot, created in 1971 by the Marsteller agency, moved a generation to stop throwing garbage out of their car windows, and sent the message that individual consumers should take on the responsibility of not polluting the landscape. In 1996 the the New Orleans Times-Picayune published documentation saying Iron Eyes Cody was actually a second generation Italian-American from Louisiana, but Cody vigorously denied the allegations. On January 4, 1999, actor Iron Eyes Cody, who appeared in 100 films, died in Los Angeles. He was 94.

  *   - Indicates the person was the star or co-star 
**
  -  Indicates the person was a regular or a recurring actor 


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