The executive producers of ABC drama “Big Sky” have issued a response to criticism from multiple Indigenous groups that the series does not have any tribal representation despite being set in being set in an area with a disproportionately high rate of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG), and depicting abductions that occur at truck stops.
The producers, among them creator David E. Kelley, said in a statement Tuesday that their “eyes have been opened” by the criticism and that they are now “working with Indigenous groups to help bring attention to this important issue.” However, Tom Rodgers, president of the Global Indigenous Council (GIC), the international Indigenous rights advocacy body which is coordinating the groups’ response, claims that neither he, nor any of the groups which called out the show have heard from the producers or ABC.
“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,” Rodgers said in a statement. “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. In our culture, trust can only be earned not promised.”
ABC had no comment when asked to clarify which organizations “Big Sky” is working with.
The producers’ response comes over a week after Indigenous leaders called them and ABC out for an “incomplete depiction of violence against women and girls.” On Nov. 19, the Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana and Global Indigenous Council wrote a letter to to ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke and Kelley, among others, outlining their criticisms of the show.
The letter said that “tribal members constitute 7% of the population, but the state identifies some 26% of missing persons as Native American,” highlighting why the lack of Indigenous representation in “Big Sky” is such an issue.
Here’s the “Big Sky” producers’ statement in full:
“After meaningful conversations with representatives of the Indigenous community, our eyes have been opened to the outsized number of Native American and Indigenous women who go missing and are murdered each year, a sad and shocking fact. We are grateful for this education and are working with Indigenous groups to help bring attention to this important issue.”