Native Americans just can’t catch a break in Hollywood. Not only do they have Adam Sandler to deal with, now those entitled little punks from the Maze Runner movies are resurrecting the “Indian burial ground” trope. Series star Dylan O’Brien started the whole thing in an interview on daytime talk show Live With Kelly And Michael last month, where he blamed a rash of mysterious illnesses on the Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials set on their New Mexico filming location, which he claims is—wait for it—a Native American burial ground. Of course, like most horror-movie protagonists, they brought it on themselves:
“They said basically, ‘Don’t take anything and respect the grounds,’” according to O’Brien. “They were very strict about littering, and don’t take any artifacts, rocks, skulls anything like that. And everyone just takes stuff, obviously…within a week, five of our actors just went down, ill. Random stuff, too.”
It took several weeks, but O’Brien’s interview eventually resulted in an online petition demanding that that the cast and crew apologize to the people whose land was treated like a Claire’s whose security guard stepped out for a smoke. That petition has more than 52,000 signatures at the time of this writing, forcing the studio to address the situation. “If any artifacts were mishandled or removed from the location, we will do everything to ensure they are restored,” 20th Century Fox says in a statement.
It’s all a very neat—and clichéd—narrative. But there’s one problem: The manager of the property, a 22,000-acre ranch located in the desert between Santa Fe and Albuqueurque, says there aren’t any burial grounds on the property. There are, however, Native American artifacts dating approximately from the years 800 to 1700, including pottery shards and rock tools. “Whether it be a thousand-dollar pot that was found, or a pottery shard … we consider it all sacred,” property manager Roch Hart tells Reuters. So sorry, kid, there weren’t any vengeful ghosts or ancient curses. You were just being an idiot.