The Crying Indian – #98 (Counting Down 100 Top Hoaxes)

In the early 1970s, Keep America Beautiful started a new ad campaign with the slogan “People start pollution. People can stop it.” (You can watch the ad here).

The part of the commercial that really got people using trash bins was at the end, when a bag of trash flung from a car window lands at the feet of Iron Eyes Cody (pictured), a Native American in traditional dress. He looks down at the trash and then turns towards the camera to reveal a single tear rolling down his cheek.

But as it turns out, Iron Eyes, who claimed to be Cherokee/Cree, actually had Italian parents. Oh, and the tear was fake too – glycerine.

I suppose Keep America Beautiful isn’t too concerned about his non-Native heritage though, they’re still using his image on their website:


See a list of the hoaxes counted down so far after the jump.

100.  Bridezilla Freaks Out About Her Hairdo
99. The Joe Schmo Show
98. The Crying Indian

3 Responses to “The Crying Indian – #98 (Counting Down 100 Top Hoaxes)”

  1. 1 Michael A. Vaughn January 31, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    One question comes to my mind: who cares! This man’s image is used to provoke a strong message. I don’t care if he is American Indian or not. It is the message I most care about. They could have used an Irish immigrant for all I care.

    People need to be reminded, daily, that it is not Okay to pollute.

    Mike Vaughn
    Miwuk Tribe

  2. 2 EnlightningLinZ January 31, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    You’re right, it doesn’t matter that he wasn’t an Indian, but he was represented as one but wasn’t so it’s a hoax. It’s not a bad thing, but I think it’s surprising that such a well known American Indian face isn’t actual American Indian, so that’s why I included it in the countdown.

  3. 3 J May 20, 2010 at 6:41 am

    The real disgrace is the history of the American Indian. It’s too late to ‘keep America beautiful’ from their point of view.
    Good blog.

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