Monday, October 24, 2016

Male on Monday - Native American Actors: How Hollywood got it Wrong!

Pink Heart Society columnist Jenna Kernan is getting ready to celebrate Native American Heritage Month...

Hollywood has a history of using white actors to play ethnic parts.  The 1950s seems the decade of most egregious bad casting.  But wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back and change out those blue-eyes men wearing parted black wigs and headbands with some Native American actors?  Here are my picks for some of the most tragic casting in 1950s Westerns:

Blue-eyed Burt Lancaster in APACHE released in 1950.

Here’s Rick Mora, both Yaqui Nation and Apache.  Now there’s a man who can play the part.

Henry Brandon is surrounded by a confusing mix of plains headdress and beading.  He also seems to be paint or have a really unfortunate strawberry birthmark across his face in THE SEARCHERS, 1953 

David Midthunder combines masculine beauty with a toughness perfect for a leader, hero or villain.

Charlton Heston also shows his blue peepers and seems to be standing under a red light or has sustained a second-degree sunburn in 1952, THE SEARCHERS

Here is the actor Jay Tavare the man I wish they could have chosen for basically any part in anything!  He’s haunting and intense with beautiful expressive eyes.  Plus he doesn’t look like a burn patient.

As a society, we are making progress and some directors have gotten it right in casting.  Kudos to the following films for making wise casting choices.


Will Sampson as Ten Bears

Chief Dan George as Lone Watie.

I fell in love with Chief Dan in that part, age differences aside.  He is charming and endearing, funny and wise.  If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend it.


This cast shows what is possible and the results were spectacular.

Michael Spears as Otter and beside this, Michael Spears all grown up!

Actor Rodney A Grant.  Who could forget him as Wind In His Hair.  That beats my fingers in his hair, I suppose.

Duane Howard as Elk Dog in DeCaprio’s recent smash, The Revenant

Now as for the newest reincarnation of THE LONE RANGER, I will let the reader decide.  One thing we can agree on is that Johnny Depp is a handsome man who is always easy on the eyes.

Next month is Native American Heritage Month.  Let’s try to learn something learn from past mistakes. 

I hope Hollywood is listening and continues to cast Native American actors to play Native American parts, but more than that, I hope they casts Native American actors to play a variety of parts.

Here’s two series that are on Netflix that feature Native American actors that I have really enjoyed.

Want more handsome men? 

Try these two options airing on Netflix.

The Red Road Only two seasons, but well worth watching.  This cast includes Jason Momoa (mic drop).

Skinwalkers: The Navajo Mystery series based on Tony Hillerman’s characters staring Adam Beach and Wes Studi playing Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn.

Who are your favourite Native American actors?  Join the discussion in the comments!

The next book in Jenna's Apache Protector series, Turquoise Guardian is out soon:

Her Warrior Protector

Carter Bear Den is a proud Apache of the Turquoise Canyon Reservation. The former US Marine is a member of the Turquoise Guardians working to protect his people and their land. When he discovers a grisly mass shooting at the Lilac Copper Mine, Carter's one thought is to find Amber Kitcheyan.

After breaking her engagement to Carter and relinquishing her membership with the reservation, Amber found work at the mine. Now she is the sole survivor of the shootingat best a witness, at worst a suspect. But Carter swears to protect the only woman he has ever loved, even if it means losing everything else.

Bestselling author, Jenna Kernan, writes romantic suspense for Harlequin Intrigue, Western Historical fiction and paranormal romance. A Publishers' Weekly Bestselling Author, winner of the Book Buyers' Best award and two-time RITA nominee, Jenna’s popular APACHE PROTECTOR series for Harlequin Intrigue continues in January 2017 with TURQUOISE GUARDIAN and February with EAGLE WARRIOR.

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For more details about Jenna Kernan's stories, visit her EXTRAS page on her website, visit her Facebook page and follow her on Twitter.


  1. I love the Skinwalker/Coyote Waits mystery series based on the Tony Hillerman books! I also enjoyed Smoke Signals with Adam Beach. I will have to look for The Red Road.

  2. I have Smoke Signals on my queue but have not seen it yet. I'm glad to know you enjoyed it. I loved the Red Road as every character is pitted against the other. Unfortunately there are only two seasons, I believe. Both worth watching!