Lakotas want Crazy Horse off silver screen

  • TNT film inaccurately portrays Chief Red Cloud, say descendants

    Eric Haase

Lakotas want Crazy Horse

off silver screen

As a Turner Network Television crew packed up its cameras after filming Crazy Horse in Hot Springs, S.D., members of the Lakota tribe picked up their pens to sign a petition against the latest TNT movie focusing on Native American history. Descendants of Crazy Horse and Lakota Sioux Chief Red Cloud say TNT/Von Zerneck-Sertner Films' depiction of the two men's relationship as bitter and jealous is inaccurate.

"It's done for dramatic purposes, but it is entirely speculation," says Bob Gough, attorney for the relatives of Crazy Horse. Both families are threatening lawsuits and a Crazy Horse descendant is circulating a petition that opposes any use of Crazy Horse - who never let himself be photographed - for entertainment purposes.

Controversy plagued the production from the beginning. TNT showed up on location near the Pine Ridge reservation without consulting the families about the script, says Gough. Then, about 50 Lakota extras staged a walk-out during the filming, protesting unequal pay, injuries on the job and disrespect of elders. Finally, Indian actor Sonny Skyhawk forfeited his supporting role in sympathy with the descendants. "I am a Lakota first, and an actor second," he says.

Turner Network insists it is making a good film and has heeded advice by hiring Indians as actors and in production. Producer Hanay Geiogamah, a member of the Delaware and Kiowa tribes, says the network provides opportunities for Indians to break into the film industry. But the 300 Lakotas who signed the petition against the film remain unconvinced. Says Gough: "We live here after the film crew leaves."

* Heather Abel

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