FARMINGTON — Actor Johnny Depp, who will play Tonto in the upcoming movie version of "The Lone Ranger," gave the Navajo Nation $25,000 for scholarships.

President Ben Shelly accepted the donation, and the Navajo Nation's Health Education and Human Services Committee voted to accept the money so it could be appropriated for vocational scholarships, Navajo Nation Council officials said Monday.

The Office of Navajo Nation Scholarship and Financial Assistance last year awarded more than $14 million to Navajo students.

This year, it is expected to offer slightly less money, closer to about $13 million, according to Carolyn Calvin, senior public information officer for the office. Students are eligible to receive up to $3,500 in scholarships from the Navajo Nation.

Every year, about 17,000 students apply for education assistance, but only about 5,000 receive aid.

"Any contribution for Navajo Nation scholarships, we always are grateful for," said Erny Zah, Navajo Nation spokesman. "Every dollar is needed. We definitely are most appreciative."

Depp's spokesperson told Zah on Monday that the donation was supposed to be private and no further statement would be released on his behalf.

"The Lone Ranger" movie, based on the 1950s TV series about a masked former Texas Ranger who fights injustice in the Old West with his American Indian spirit warrior companion, was largely shot in the Southwest.

Scenes feature several local locations, including the Shiprock monument, which can be seen in the movie's recently released trailer.


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Shiprock is seen with a train tunnel going through it in the first seconds.

Monument Valley, a tribal park near the Arizona-Utah border, also is featured. Monument Valley has provided an Old West backdrop for Hollywood movies for decades. Scenes also were filmed in Oklahoma and other areas of Indian Country.

"The Lone Ranger" is scheduled for a June 3 release.