Before Johnny Depp stepped into the role of Tonto, Ontario born Mohawk actor Jay Silverheels was remembered at the Tonto, the faithful ‘Injun sidekick’, in the 1950s TV series “The Lone Ranger”.

Aside from his Pidgin English dialect, he became a pioneer for a generation of Aboriginal viewers – the only First Nations actor on the airwaves of the era. But he would emerge forever typecast as the stoic Indian — a box he tried to break out of for himself and other Aboriginal actors by founding The Indian Actors Studio.

Featuring rare interviews with his family, his Lone Ranger co-star John Hart and First Nations actors Tina Keeper and Michael Horse, this one-hour documentary delves into the stereotype of the Hollywood Indian, and the actor who fought to move beyond it.

Part of the series The Canadians: Biographies of a Nation.


David Finch & Maureen Marovitch


Maureen Marovitch


Patricia Philips
Carrie Madu-Bailey

Director of Photography

Andre Khabad


Jason Levy


Patrick Watson

Original Music

Pierre-Yves Drapeau

Original Broadcaster

History Television