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Pretendians Amongst Us

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Iron Eyes Cody (born Espera Oscar de Corti, April 3, 1904 – January 4, 1999) was an American actor of Italian descent who portrayed Native Americans in Hollywood films,[2] famously as Chief Iron Eyes in Bob Hope's The Paleface (1948). He also played a Native American shedding a tear about litter in one of the country's most well-known television public service announcements from the group Keep America Beautiful.[3] Living in Hollywood, he began to insist, even in his private life, that he was Native American, over time claiming membership in several different tribes. In 1996, Cody's half-sister said that he was of Italian ancestry, but he denied it.[3][4] After his death, it was revealed that he was of Sicilian parentage, and not Native American at all (wikipedia).


This post was inspired by the cbc gem documentary 'The Pretendians' aired Sept. 30, 2022.

Why are there so many ‘pretend Indians’ these days? Anishinaabe author Drew Hayden Taylor investigates The Pretendians | The Passionate Eye (

'Esteemed novelist Joseph Boyden, acclaimed film director Michelle Latimer and former University of Saskatchewan professor Carrie Bourassa have all made front-page news in recent years for the same reason: each is alleged to have been a “pretendian.”

The term “pretendian” has come to refer to someone who claims distant Indigenous heritage that doesn’t stand up to deeper scrutiny. But why would someone fake an Indigenous identity?

That question is the premise of The Pretendians, a documentary from The Passionate Eye and the latest film featuring Anishinaabe author and playwright Drew Hayden Taylor. The documentary follows his cross-Canada journey, revealing what really lies behind this explosive issue.

Taylor goes on the hunt for knock-off Indigenous art on the West Coast, and explores an explosion of dubious Indigenous heritage claims in Eastern Canada. He unpacks the concept of blood quantum — that one drop of Indigenous blood is enough to claim Indigeneity — and meets a university teacher who’s found her own Indigenous heritage being questioned on social media. Taylor also joins an American Cherokee woman, the director of the Tribal Alliance Against Frauds, as she tries to track down and confront an alleged pretendian teaching at one of Canada’s most prestigious universities.

As he investigates the growing phenomenon, Taylor asks: “Is it all about money and jobs, or is there something deeper going on?

Watch The Pretendians on The Passionate Eye.'

(Outside of kanada need a vpn to view).


How the Native American population in the US increased 87% says more about whiteness than about demographics

Published: December 15, 2021 8.28am EST



Identity wars: What makes an Indigenous person Indigenous, and how do 'pretendians' complicate things?

Drew Hayden Taylor examines the issue of ‘pretendians,’ those faking Indigenous heritage, in new documentary: Identity wars: What makes an Indigenous person Indigenous, and how do 'pretendians' complicate things? | CBC Documentaries

Drew Hayden Taylor · Posted: Sep 29, 2022 3:17 PM ET | Last Updated: September 29



The Native American population in the U.S. grew by a staggering 86.5% between 2010 and 2020, according to the latest U.S. Census – a rate demographers say is impossible to achieve without immigration.

Birth rates among Native Americans don’t explain the massive rise in numbers. And there certainly is no evidence of an influx of Native American expatriates returning to the U.S.

Instead, individuals who previously identified as white are now claiming to be Native American.

This growing movement has been captured by terms like “pretendian" or "wannabe"


Playing Pretendian | Code Switch

1 Jun 2022 People lie about being Native American all the time – on college applications, on job applications, in casual conversation. But how do "Pretendians" hurt real Indigenous people and communities? And what does all that mean for people who aren't quite sure if they're claiming or reclaiming?







18 Apr 2017We all know the Métis are descended from fur traders and Indigenous women who rose up against the Canadian government in 1869 and 1885. They became a nation on the prairies. But groups in other parts of Canada have popped up to say they are just as Métis as the descendants of Red River.





The Curious Case of Gina Adams: A “Pretendian investigation

She was hired by Emily Carr University in an effort to recruit Indigenous faculty. Then questions arose about her identity.


Should We Be Offended That Germans Are Obsessed With North American Indigenous Culture?

There are more feathers and buckskin floating around those Teutonic hills than you’d think possible.Drew Hayden Taylor, Author: Should We Be Offended That Germans Are Obsessed With North American Indigenous Culture? | CBC Docs POV


Searching For Winnetou

Ojibway author and humourist Drew Hayden Taylor’s quest to understand the roots of the German obsession with Native North Americans. Searching For Winnetou | CBC Docs POV


Kim Tallbear

Indigenous “Race Shifting” Red Flags

A Quick Primer for Reporters and Others:

Terminology note: Terms are always politically, geographically, and temporally contextual. You will notice me move between terms, especially when I refer to situations in the US vs. Canada. Between these two settler states, some terminology overlaps and some is quite different. My apologies if any terms used (e.g. “tribe” or “Native”) hurt your ears. Terms that make people cringe in some places, are widely accepted in others. In fact, even the most up-to-date “politically correct” term, “Indigenous,” is disliked for a variety of legitimate reasons by some. Language is a minefield; best to learn the map.



Indigenous Women's Collective @IndigenousWome4

Mothers, LGBTQ+, grandmothers, daughters, aunties, artists, academics, lawyers, and activists with one voice to Stop Colonial Violence Against Indigenous Women.

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