Producers of ABC's hit new show Big Skyare responding to criticism from Indigenous groups over its lack of representation for Native and Indigenous women.
"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," Big Sky's executive producers say in a statement to ET. "We are grateful for this education and are working with Indigenous groups to help bring attention to this important issue."
Global Indigenous Council president Tom Rodgers reacted to the statement on Wednesday.
"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," he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "We have no idea what they are talking about, but we would be very interested to hear from ABC on its ideas for remedying the injustice done by its series, Big Sky. So we’re interested in learning who ABC is working with, since it is curious that no purported Indigenous partners are named in its statement. In our culture, trust can only be earned, not promised."
In mid-November, a collective of Indigenous organizations penned an open letter to ABC executives and show producers, calling for them to "enter into a dialogue" about representing Native and Indigenous women on the show, or adding an information frame at the end of episodes.
According to the letter, while Indigenous people make up only 7% of Montana's population, 26% of the state's missing persons are identified as Native American.
"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," the letter said. "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."
Based on a series of novels by C.J. Box, Big Sky centers on the search for two missing girls, who are white, after their disappearance from a Montana highway. Big Sky premiered on Nov. 17.