The ABC drama “Big Sky” is facing backlash from multiple Indigenous groups.
The backlash is surrounding the fact that the show has zero tribal representation. However, the area in which the show takes place has many Indigenous groups. “Big Sky” is set in Montana. Indigenous groups point out that the state has a high rate of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG).
Indigenous Groups Criticize ‘Big Sky’
The show is all about two detectives that are working together to find out who is kidnapping and murdering women in the area. The hunt starts after two young (white) girls go missing. However, given the plot of the show, the lack of diversity makes things less realistic given the area.
Different Indigenous groups are hoping that the show can help bring awareness to this societal issue. The show seems to skip right around it.
“We write with serious concerns of at best, cultural insensitivity, and at worst, appropriation, in respect to the soon-to-be premiered series, ‘Big Sky,'” a part of the letter addressed to executives said, according to Entertainment Weekly.
The Indigenous groups also point out that ignoring the threat to Native American women is irresponsible. “To ignore this fact, and to portray this devastation with a white female face, is the height of cultural insensitivity, made even more egregious given the national awakening to the need for racial justice.”
Producers Respond to Backlash
Producers and executives of the show have recently responded to this backlash. This includes the creator of the show, David E. Kelley. He said his “eyes have been opened” and the show will be “working with Indigenous groups to help bring attention to this important issue.”
Kelley and others have released comments regarding the controversy on Tuesday. However, they haven’t had any direct conversations with Indigenous groups.
Tom Rodgers, the President of the Global Indigenous Council, said that neither he nor others that have called out the show have heard from producers nor ABC representatives.
“ABC Studios claimed it is working with Native Americans to fix the problem of ignoring the epidemic of violence against Native American women in its series, ‘Big Sky.’ We have not heard from the honchos at ‘Big Sky,’ ABC Studios or parent company Disney. So we have no idea what they are talking about. If this is true, we would be very interested to hear exactly who ABC is working with since it is curious that they do not name any purported Indigenous partners in their statement …” Rodgers said, according to Variety.
ABC has not made public which groups, if any, they are working with.
Native American MMIWG
The Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, and the Global Indigenous Council wrote the letter to ABC. They note just how disproportionate missing people numbers are.
The letter said that tribal members make up 7% of the population. However, Montana identifies 26% of missing persons as Native American.
MMIWG has been working to spread awareness about missing women and girls in Indigenous communities throughout the U.S. and Canada. They hold organized marches, community meetings, tribal council meetings, as well as domestic violence training for police.