Original commendation from Assemblywoman Cathie Wright to actor Iron Eyes Cody upon his 1985 induction into the Newhall Walk of Western Stars, known at the time as the Western Walk of Fame.
Wright, R-Simi Valley, represented the Santa Clarita Valley in the state Assembly from 1980-1992 and the state Senate from 1992-2000.
Assembly resolution reads:
By the Honorable Cathie Wright
Thirty-seventh Assembly District; relative to commending
IRON EYES CODY
Whereas, upon his installation into the "Western Walk of Fame" in Newhall, Iron Eyes Cody is deserving of special public recognition and highest commendations from the people of California; and
Whereas, Iron Eyes Cody, a Cherokee Indian [sic], is the first Indian to be honored among the many western heritage heroes; and
Whereas, he has starred on television and in commercials, has won national acclaim for his portrayal in the "Indian in the Canoe" segment of the "Keep America Beautiful" program, and has had a long and colorful career in the movies, performing with western greats such as John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, and Ben Johnson; and
Whereas, in addition, he authored two books on Indian sign language and one of famous western artist clarence Ellsworth, and a recently published autobiography; and
Whereas, he is a member of the Board of the Los Angeles Library Association and the Southwest Museum, president of the Little Big Horn Indian Association, and vigil member of the Order of the Arrow of the Boy Scouts of America; and
Whereas, a man of many talents, Iron Eyes Cody is equally skilled with a bow and arrow as with a camera, and he has been honored by many organizations for his portrayal of the American Indian and his many civic endeavors; now, therefore, be it
Resolved By Assembly Member Cathie Wright, that she takes great pleasure in congratulating Iron Eyes Cody on his selection as the first Indian to be placed in the famous "Western Walk of Fame" in Newhall, and extends sincere best wishes for every success in the future; and be it further
Resolved, that a suitably prepared copy of this resolution be transmitted to Iron Eyes Cody.
Members Resolution No. 1504
Dated: August 15, 1985
Honorable Cathie Wright
37th Assembly District
By Barbara Mikkelson, co-founder of snopes.com
Iron Eyes Cody was born Espera DeCorti on April 3, 1904, in the small town of Kaplan, Louisiana. He was the son of Francesca Salpietra and Antonio DeCorti, she an immigrant from Sicily who had arrived in the USA in 1902, and he, another immigrant who had arrived in America not long before her. Their's was an arranged marriage, and the couple had four children, with Espera (or Oscar, as he was called) their second eldest. In 1909, when Espera was five years old, Antonio DeCorti abandoned his wife and children and headed for Texas. Francesca married again, this time to a man named Alton Abshire, with whom she bore five more children.
As teenagers the three DeCorti boys joined their father in Texas. He had since altered his name from Antonio DeCorti to Tony Corti, and the boys apparently followed suit as far as their surname was concerned. In 1924, following their father's death, the boys moved to Hollywood, changed "Corti" to "Cody," and began working in the motion picture industry. It was about this time Iron Eyes began presenting himself to the world as an Indian. Iron Eyes' two brothers, Joseph William and Frank Henry, found work as extras but soon drifted into other lines of work. Iron Eyes went on to achieve a full career as an actor, appearing in well over a hundred movies and dozens of television shows across the span of several decades.
Although Iron Eyes was not born an Indian, he lived his adult years as one. He pledged his life to Native American causes, married an Indian woman (Bertha Parker), adopted two Indian boys (Robert and Arthur), and seldom left home without his beaded moccasins, buckskin jacket and braided wig. His was not a short-lived masquerade nor one that was donned and doffed whenever expedient — he maintained his fiction throughout his life and steadfastly denied rumors that he was not an Indian, even after his half-sister surfaced to tell the story in 1996 and to provide pointers to the whereabouts of his birth certificate and other family documents.
Cody died on January 5, 1999, at the age of 94.
Even if Iron Eyes was not a true-born Native American, he certainly did a lot of good on behalf of the Native American community, and they generally accepted him as one of them without caring about his true ancestry. In 1995, Hollywood's Native American community honored Iron Eyes for his longstanding contribution to Native American causes. Although he was no Indian, they pointed out, his charitable deeds were more important than his non-Indian heritage.
Cody was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1983 (6601 Hollywood Blvd.) and the Newhall Walk of Western Stars in 1985 (25254 Main Street).
LW3499: 9600 dpi jpeg from original certificate purchased 2019 by Leon Worden.