An old TV PSA promoting a clean environment is retired because the new owner of the commercial said the message of clean air is ‘inappropriate’.
Crying Indian Who Cares For Environment Is “Inappropriate”
Ever since its introduction in 1971, a television commercial advocating against pollution has ingrained itself in popular culture.
The ad features a man dressed in Native American attire shedding a lone tear as he observes smokestacks and litter overtaking a once pristine environment.
The “Crying Indian” with his buckskins and long braids made the late actor Iron Eyes Cody a recognizable face in households nationwide.
The nonprofit that originally commissioned the advertisement, Keep America Beautiful, had long been considering how to retire the ad and announced this week that it’s doing so by transferring ownership of the rights to the National Congress of American Indians.
“NCAI is proud to assume the role of monitoring the use of this advertisement and ensure it is only used for historical context; this advertisement was inappropriate then and remains inappropriate today,” said NCAI Executive Director Larry Wright, Jr. “NCAI looks forward to putting this advertisement to bed for good.”
Keep America Beautiful Ad Ends
“Keep America Beautiful wanted to be careful and deliberate about how we transitioned this iconic advertisement/public service announcement to appropriate owners,” Noah Ullman, a spokesperson for the nonprofit, said via e-mail.
“We spoke to several Indigenous peoples’ organizations and were pleased to identify the National Congress of American Indians as a potential caretaker.”
NCAI plans to end the use of the ad and watch for any unauthorized use.
“Iron Eyes” Cody met with Jimmy Carter on April 21, 1978.
Watch the Original 1970s Commercial
Watch the ‘Keep America Beautiful’ original commercial, with the crying Indian, below.
Earth Day, the annual day of environmental action and awareness, was first held on April 22, 1970. This past April 22nd, we finally ventured into the woods behind our house and pulled 4 putrid truck tires/mosquito farms out of the mud, along with about 200 pounds of scrap metal, engine parts, and farm equipment. The place used to be a dairy farm, and I guess “out of sight” was “out of mind”. If it were still the 70’s, cleaning up the woods would have been “outta sight” in a whole different way. Here’s a clip of The Crying Indian from the early 70’s. OK, so Chief Iron Eyes Cody wasn’t a real Native American after all. That didn’t stop the ad campaign from having a tremendous effect back then. And it’s no less relevant today.
This particular video has been views over 2 million times since 2007.
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