The groups are accusing the show of "serious concerns of at best, cultural insensitivity, and at worst, appropriation"

By Nicholas Rice
November 26, 2020 03:10 PM
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Credit: ABC/Kharen Hill

An array of Indigenous groups are calling out ABC and its new drama series Big Sky.

Last week, numerous Indigenous organizations called upon the network and the show in an open letter to properly address the lack of representation of Native and Indigenous women on the show, which centers on abductions that take place at truck stops in Montana, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Now, this week, the outlet reports that The Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association (GPTCA) and the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) have also added themselves to the growing list of Indigenous groups that have concerns with the series, which stars Katheryn Winnick, Kylie Bunbury, Brian Geraghty and Ryan Phillippe.

The groups are accusing the show of "serious concerns of at best, cultural insensitivity, and at worst, appropriation," as well as "not having any tribal representation in the show," despite the series taking place in a locale with "a disproportionately high rate of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG)," per Variety.

A representative for ABC did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Big Sky
| Credit: ABC/Darko Sikman

The initial letter — which was sent last week to ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke and series creator David E. Kelley, among others — was signed by Rocky Mountain Tribal Leaders Council executive director William F. Snell, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana chairman David Sickey and Global Indigenous Council president Tom Rodgers, according to THR.

The groups' letter shares their disappointment that the ABC series does not "address the fact that the disproportionate majority of missing and murdered women in Montana are Indigenous, a situation replicated across Indian Country, which has made this tragedy an existential threat to Native Americans."

"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," the letter adds.

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Also this week, the UBCIC and GPTCA issued press releases, calling on the network "to incorporate the issue of Montana's missing and murdered Native and Indigenous women into the storyline of the show," THR adds.

In the GPTCA press release, the group is asking the show to incorporate "an information frame at the end of future Big Sky show credits that directs viewers to the Somebody’s Daughter documentary and factual information on the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women crisis." Somebody's Daughter is a documentary the follows the crisis of missing and murdered Native and Indigenous women across the nation.

In their press release, the UBCIC also asked for ABC to "address and rectify its incomplete depiction of violence against women and girls."

Big Sky is based on C.J. Box's 2013 novel, The Highway, and follows the story of a private investigator who teams up with an ex-cop to investigate the disappearance of two sisters and other abductions that take place across truck stops in Montana.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter this week, Burke said that the drama series was "a story that is realistic about the fact that violence against women exists in our country."

She added: "It’s owning it and it’s telling a story of women that are victims of it that ultimately triumph over it."