Ed Driscoll

The Not-So-Noble Savage

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Pirates of the Memory Hole: Johnny Depp at the ill-fated Lone Ranger’s premiere. (Photo by Shutterstock.com.)

“By casting the cruelest, most aggressive tribe of Indians as mere saps and victims of oppression, Johnny Depp’s Lone Ranger perpetuates the patronising and ignorant cartoon of the ‘noble savage,'” the London Daily Mail notes today, adding that “For reasons best know to themselves, the film-makers have changed Tonto’s tribe to Comanche — in the original TV version, he was a member of the comparatively peace-loving Potowatomi tribe:”

The 16-year-old girl’s once-beautiful face was grotesque.

She had been disfigured beyond all recognition in the 18 months she had been held captive by the Comanche Indians.

Now, she was being offered back to the Texan authorities by Indian chiefs as part of a peace negotiation.

To gasps of horror from the watching crowds, the Indians presented her at the Council House in the ranching town of San Antonio in 1840, the year Queen Victoria married Prince Albert.

‘Her head, arms and face were full of bruises and sores,’ wrote one witness, Mary Maverick. ‘And her nose was actually burnt off to the bone. Both nostrils were wide open and denuded of flesh.’

Once handed over, Matilda Lockhart broke down as she described the horrors she had endured — the rape, the relentless sexual humiliation and the way Comanche squaws had tortured her with fire. It wasn’t just her nose, her thin body was hideously scarred all over with burns.

When she mentioned she thought there were 15 other white captives at the Indians’ camp, all of them being subjected to a similar fate, the Texan lawmakers and officials said they were detaining the Comanche chiefs while they rescued the others.

It was a decision that prompted one of the most brutal slaughters in the history of the Wild West — and showed just how bloodthirsty the Comanche could be in revenge.

S C Gwynne, author of Empire Of The Summer Moon about the rise and fall of the Comanche, says simply: ‘No tribe in the history of the Spanish, French, Mexican, Texan, and American occupations of this land had ever caused so much havoc and death. None was even a close second.’

Still though, they demonstrated about as much regard for the environment as an average Hollywood film production on location, so they’ve got that going for them, at least.