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Elizabeth Warren not history’s only Fauxcahontas

By Gayle Fee and Laura Raposa with Megan Johnson / Inside Track
Thursday, May 17, 2012 -
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With Elizabeth Warren now lacking even a shred of proof of her purported Native American heritage, the Harvard Law prof may soon join the tribe of previous poseurs whose claims of Indian ties also went up in smoke. Here are some of the more famous — and infamous — Fauxcahontases and Lieawathas who have marched down a similar Trail of Crocodile Tears:

Lisa Simpson: In an episode titled “Little Big Girl,” “The Simpsons’” middle child invented Native American ancestors to spice up her family tree for her school’s Multicultural Day. Inspired by Marge’s corn-stalk kitchen curtains and the brand of the family’s microwave, Bart’s little sis claimed to be a member of the Hitachi tribe. Lisa’s ancestry scam unraveled when she was chosen as the keynote speaker for a Native American Tribal Council powwow at Springfield Multicultural Center. Luckily for Lisa, she was spared the wrath of the rest of the tribal leaders when it was discovered that they too were fake Indians.

Iron Eyes Cody: The actor portrayed Native Americans in a slew of Hollywood films including “The Scarlet Letter” with John Wayne and “A Man Called Horse” with Richard Harris. But Iron Eyes was best known as the “crying Indian” in a Keep America Beautiful public service announcement. He was honored by the American Indian community for his work publicizing the plight of Native Americans. Unfortunately, in 1996 it was revealed that Iron Eyes was actually Espera Oscar de Corti of Louisiana, the son of Sicilian immigrants.

Albert “Big Chief” Lambreaux: Portrayed by actor Clarke Peters on HBO’s “Treme,” Lambreaux is the head of the Guardians Of The Flame, a tribe of Mardi Gras Indians. Like the real-life New Orleans Carnival revelers, Big Chief and his tribesman are all African-Americans.

Forrest Carter: The author of the acclaimed book “The Education of Little Tree” claimed to be Cherokee. He was, in reality, Asa Earl Carter, a white supremacist from Alabama who had been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Carter, a speechwriter for Gov. George Wallace, reportedly was responsible for Wallace’s infamous line: “Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

Ward Churchill: The University of Colorado professor and Native American activist claimed to be descended from the Muscogee, Creek and Cherokee tribes. He was granted tenure courtesy of the school’s “special opportunity position” but Churchill insisted he got no special treatment. In 2005 the Rocky Mountain News reported that it had examined Churchill’s genealogy and found “no evidence of a single Indian ancestor.” He was subsequently fired from the University for academic misconduct.

Chief Jay Strongbow: The pro wrestler dressed in Native American threads, complete with headdress, and would “go on the warpath” when fans cheered him. In reality he was Joseph Luke Scarpa, the son of Italian-Americans from Philadelphia.

File Under: No Reservations.

Elizabeth Warren
Photo by Herald (file)
Elizabeth Warren
Boston Herald

Photo Gallery:

Trail of Crocodile Tears

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