Arts & Entertainment | National | Politics

John Wayne's negative views about tribes resurface in California debate

John Wayne and Marsha Hunt in a scene from Born to the West, a 1937 Western. Image from Wikimedia Commons

The California Assembly voted largely along party lines on Thursday to reject a resolution that would have honored John Wayne, the actor who rose to fame as an Indian fighter on screen.

Democrats slammed Wayne for what they said were Wayne's racist views against Native Americans and African Americans. They quoted from a 1971 Playboy magazine article in which he repeatedly refused to accept that tribes and Native people have been treated unfairly by the federal government.

"I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that's what you're asking," Wayne was quoted as saying. "Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves."

Assembly Concurrent Resolution 137, which would have established May 26 as John Wayne Day, fell six votes short of the majority it needed to pass, The Sacramento Bee reported. Twenty lawmakers voted against it and 25 refused to vote at all, the paper said.

Get the Story:
California Assembly rejects resolution honoring John Wayne (The Sacramento Bee 4/29)
‘John Wayne Day’ in Calif. rejected because of actor’s statements about minority groups (The Washington Post 4/29)
Racist statements lead lawmakers to reject John Wayne Day (AP 4/29)

Join the Conversation