your internet resource on facebook on twitter on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Home > Arts & Entertainment > Television
Printer friendly version
Walker, Texas Stereotype

The biography of Chuck Norris says he was born Carlos Ray in Lawton, Oklahoma to an Irish-English mother and a Cherokee father. Apparently, his Cherokee heritage forms the basis of many episodes of Walker, Texas Ranger.

While we aren't able to confirm at this time whether or not Norris an enrolled in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma (anyone?), we are able to confirm that the show features some of the most interesting and hilarious Indian images and stereotypes on television today.

We watched the episode "Tribe" recently and have many interesting comments on it. But since we are limited in space, we'll cut them down to the most important.

The Setting
We are glad "Tribe" takes place on Indian land, stars Indian actors, and focuses on some Indian-related issues. But couldn't Norris have set the episode in a real tribal locale?

We aren't aware of any Cherokee reservation in Texas, so we guess Norris had to invent one. These Cherokees must have taken a detour off the Trail of Tears.

So maybe Norris didn't want to call the show "Walker, Oklahoma Ranger" -- which would have been more appropriate.

But at least the imaginary reservation has a tribal police force and a tribal court. Eloy Casados is police Chief Sam Coyote, Branscombe Richmond is Deputy George Black Fox, and Ned Romero is Judge Henry Fivekills.

And of course, there's Walker, affectionately known by his Indian name, "Washo." We don't know what that means but its probably something like "Weighs Too Much."

Washo, Cherokee Ranger.

Tribal cops Black Fox and Coyote.

The Racism
"Tribe" tackles a lot of issues: racism, environmental exploitation, and sovereignty are just a few. Does the show succeed?

There's Sam Coyote, who asks a White Woman (tm) archaeologist who's conducting a dig on tribal land to be his lady. She declines his offer and he becomes distraught.

When he tries to talk with her, the White Men (tm) working on her dig move in to protect "their" woman from the bad Injun. They hurl racial insults at Sam.

Obviously, he get gets upset. Fighting with White Men ensues.

We don't doubt there is a lot of racial animosity on this pretend reservation, but we think the White Men lay it on a bit too thick. They refer to Officer Coyote as "Crazy Horse."

"Some Injuns just don't know their place."

"Yeah, we know our place with the lady, boy!"

"Its clear the lady don't want none of your kind!"

Or are Texans really this bigoted?

We aren't sure but we're glad we don't live in Texas.

"Stop bugging me!"

"You crazy Injun!"

The Injuns fight the Whites.

The Judge
Fortunately, we get to meet the best asset of this Cherokee reservation, Judge Fivekills.

In his infinite Cherokee wisdom, he fines all of the men for fighting (except Officer Black Fox, who was only trying to break up the fight) and makes them donate money to the Cherokee Orphans Fund. We didn't feel the fines were high enough but maybe the Cherokee Orphans don't ask for much come Christmastime.

He even threatens the archaeologist with a withdrawal of her license to dig on tribal land if her employees cause any more trouble. He also grants the archaeologist a restraining order against Coyote.

We were impressed. Can we nominate him for tribal judge of the year?

Judge Fivekills, Tribal Court Judge of the Year.

The Exploitation
Of course, the whole episode can't be only about Judge Fivekills. As it turns out, some company has discovered oil on the Cherokee reservation and they want to steal it without the tribe's knowledge. But the archaeologist stands in their way.

So obviously they must kill her. And of course, Coyote gets accused and arrested because like all men, when a woman declines his advances, he wants to hurt her. Or so seems the message the show tries to give us.

Its hard to accept that Coyote is prone to domestic violence when we've never seen examples of it in the past. Did he stalk the archaeologist in between commercials? Does he have other restraining orders against him in tribal court? Does he have a history of violence with women?

So while the episode tries to address exploitation of Indian land and mineral rights, it also exploits our poor Indian cop.

Back to The Judge
Luckily, the episode does better by going back to our favorite character, Judge Fivekills. This time, Fivekills is trying to protect the tribe's sovereignty by stifling the FBI agents who've come to take Coyote into federal custody.

In probably the only pro-sovereignty speech ever seen on network television, he denies the FBI's request and orders Officer Coyote to face a trial of his peers, not a white jury who will most likely convict him because he is an Indian.

"The federal government created reservations, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and judges like myself to administer the law here," says Fivekills. "But when it comes to a high-profile case like this one, the FBI comes charging onto the reservation and wants to take control."

"Look, Judge Fivekills, I understand your anger and frustration," the FBI agent pleads.

"You don't understand a damn thing, son," retorts the judge.

The FBI agent pleads but gets rejected by Judge Fivekills.

The Resolution
But like all good judges, Fivekills knows the FBI will eventually be able take the officer away because they have jurisdiction under to the Major Crimes Act. Plus, there is no double jeopardy because the tribe and the federal government are separate sovereigns.

So of course, this is Chuck Norris' show and its time for Walker to do what he does best. He uses his Cherokee intuition (and the show's only other minority character) to dig up some dirt on the oil company. Then he kicks some people in the head.

Finally, he saves the day for the tribe by revealing the oil company's true intent to steal the tribe's natural resources. More importantly, he saves the day for Officer Coyote by uncovering the archaeologist's true killer. And he does all of this in slow motion.

But like all good rangers, he has to leave his tribe, ending the episode on the imaginary Cherokee reservation. So maybe Washo isn't all that bad. Not every episode has to be about crazy bigots in Texas.

But why isn't there a series called Fivekills, Tribal Judge, we wonder?

Walker, Texas Ranger can be seen every Saturday at 10PM EST on CBS and Monday thru Friday on the USA Network, usually at 8PM EST. Check NativeTV for updates on the next time Washo returns to the imaginary reservation.

Walker, Texas Ranger on the web
The official CBS site:

Schedule on USA:

Episode guide:

More NativeTV Features
Peltier subject of documentary - A new documentary discusses Leonard Peltier's high-profile murder case.

Student at center of controversy - A high school student discovers she is Indian. Send her to Indian Camp!

Walker, Texas Stereotype - Is there a Cherokee reservation in Texas? Ask Washo, Cherokee law enforcer.

California Indian Patrol - Is there an Indian rancheria in California? Only CHiPs officers Ponch and John can find out.

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.