Famous fake injuns

Sunday, June 03, 2012
Elizabeth Warren who, among many other ludicrous claims, says she the first Cherokee squaw who breastfed her papoose during a bar exam, is most likely only the latest in a long line of imposters to claim Amer-Indian status to further their career. Below are some of her more famous predecessors.  

Iron Eyes Cody is arguably the most well known of the modern imposters. Iron Eyes real name was Espera Oscar de Corti, and he was the child of Sicilian immigrants. However, by the time he began to appear in movies and on television he had adopted the persona of a Cherokee/Cree Indian.

He appeared in over 200 movies, but it was his role as the "crying Indian" in a Keep America Beautiful PSA that he is most famous for. It was only after his death that he was revealed to be of Italian ancestry.

Forrest Carter might be the strangest of all the Indian frauds. He wrote a popular book, The Education of Little Tree, that purported to be an account of him being raised by his Cherokee grandparents. It was full of Indian hookum. Prof. Rennard Strickland wrote in a foreword to the original paperback edition, "Students of Native American life discovered the book to be as accurate as it was mystical and romantic. 

In fact, Forrest Carter was the pen name for Asa Carter, a white supremacist, member of the Alabama Klu Klux Klan and a speech writer for George Wallace.

Grey Owl was born in England as Archibald Belaney but took on the identity as a member of the Ojibwe Indian tribe. He began his Indian life as a trapper, but moved on to becoming a conservationist where he gained considerable fame as an author and lecturer.

After his death it was revealed that he was in fact English. Many of his books were removed from publication because of the resulting scandal.

Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance was the preposterous "Indian" name of Sylvester Clark Long. He was a writer and actor who ironically actually did have Indian ancestors on both his mother and father's side.

However, in his autobiography Long Lance he claimed to be the son of a Blackfoot Chief. He gained a considerable amount of fame because of the book. When it revealed that his autobiography was fiction he was shunned by polite society. He eventually committed suicide.

Ward Churchill was, like Elizabeth Warren, extreme left-leaning and a suspected Indian imposter in academia. Genealogical research hasn't backed up his claims to Indian ancestry and Indian organizations have disavowed him.  He is still fighting his firing from ther University of Colorado in the courts.


Buzz Windrip said...

As long as Warren agrees to use the Native American name Fauxcahontas I don't have a problem with her claim.

The bigger problem is that when someone wraps their identity, politics and heritage around 1/32nd of their DNA something is truly wrong in our culture.

OMMAG said...

Nothing wrong with some loser wanting to be something other than a loser.

There is however something very wrong with rewarding these people for the pantomime heritage act.

ambisinistral said...

Her problem is that even if her claim, which seems not to be true, of having a distant Cherokee ancestor that makes her 1/32 Indian she should not have checked the minority box on her job application.

She was raised a middle class white girl and she knows it. Regardless of what one thinks about affirmative action, if taking an actual minority's spot isn't technically fraud it is at best unethical.

Bob said...

I am glad you did not forget our very own Ward Churchill.