What John Wayne Said about Indians and His Support of White Supremacy in His 1971 Interview

John Wayne – A True Racist

Published March 2, 2019

LOS ANGELES — Many millennials may have no point of reference for John Wayne, the B movie actor who because of Hollywood became the “greatest” cowboy of all time. The kind of cowboy who fought the Indians in western movies. The kind of cowboy real American Indians never root for in real life.

John Wayne, nicknamed Duke, died in 1979.

This past Sunday a 1971 Playboy magazine interview with John Wayne became fodder on Twitter because of the some of the outrageous racists things he said were revealed in snippets. By week’s end, critics are calling for the John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California to be renamed.

“I believe in white supremacy,” Wayne tells Playboy in the interview. “We can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people,” he said.

The Playboy interviewer then turned to the subject of American Indians. Here is the transcript of that portion of the interview:

PLAYBOY: That’s hardly the point, but let’s change the subject. For years American Indians have played an important—if subordinate—role in your Westerns. Do you feel any empathy with them?

WAYNE: I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking. 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.

PLAYBOY: Weren’t the Indians—by virtue of prior possession—the rightful owners of the land?

WAYNE: Look, I’m sure there have been inequalities. If those inequalities are presently affecting any of the Indians now alive, they have a right to a court hearing. But what happened 100 years ago in our country can’t be blamed on us today.

PLAYBOY: Indians today are still being dehumanized on reservations.

WAYNE: I’m quite sure that the concept of a government-run reservation would have an ill effect on anyone. But that seems to be what the socialists are working for now—to have everyone cared for from cradle to grave.

PLAYBOY: Indians on reservations are more neglected than cared for. Even if you accept the principle of expropriation, don’t you think a more humane solution to the Indian problem could have been devised?

WAYNE: This may come as a surprise to you, but I wasn’t alive when reservations were created—even if I do look that old. I have no idea what the best method of dealing with the Indians in the 1800s would have been. Our forefathers evidently thought they were doing the right thing.

PLAYBOY: Do you think the Indians encamped on Alcatraz have a right to that land?

WAYNE: Well, I don’t know of anybody else who wants it. The fellas who were taken off it sure don’t want to go back there, including the guards. So as far as I’m concerned, I think we ought to make a deal with the Indians. They should pay as much for Alcatraz as we paid them for Manhattan. I hope they haven’t been careless with their wampum.

PLAYBOY: How do you feel about the government grant for a university and cultural center that these Indians have demanded as “reparations”?

WAYNE: What happened between their forefathers and our forefathers is so far back— right, wrong or indifferent—that I don’t see why we owe them anything. I don’t know why the government should give them something that it wouldn’t give me.

PLAYBOY: Do you think they’ve had the same advantages and opportunities that you’ve had?

WAYNE: I’m not gonna give you one of those I-was-a-poor-boy-and-I-pulled-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps stories, but I’ve gone without a meal or two in my life, and I still don’t expect the government to turn over any of its territory to me. Hard times aren’t something I can blame my fellow citizens for. Years ago, I didn’t have all the opportunities, either. But you can’t whine and bellyache ’cause somebody else got a good break and you didn’t, like these Indians are. We’ll all be on a reservation soon if the socialists keep subsidizing groups like them with our tax money.

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