It's fairly weird actually. Sure I got some data on folks pretending to be French or Russian, but nothing in numbers or intensity compared to the fake Indian gag. Why is that? Hmmm...
American Indians have been romanticized for nearly two centuries now. The lure of the underdog too, there is that. Also, these hundreds of cultures are mostly lost now, and there's always a willingness to believe lost cultures took with them mysterious wisdom. So yeah, I get generally why somebody would want to go Indian. There's probably lots more going on in each individual choice though. Such an intensity to it.
Grey Owl was the first widely famous fake Indian. Books, lots of time on the lecture circuit. Once he passed away, turned out his name was Archibald and he was from England. Me personally? I'd have rather been "Grey Owl" than Archibald any day. Wish I knew more about him, but I suspect at the lecture podium ol' Archie really thought he was Grey Owl.
Forrest Carter is a stranger case. Back when he was Asa Carter, might've been the only guy ever got kicked out of the KKK for extremist views. But around 1970 he started taking a bizarre turn. Wrote a well recieved book about being an orphan raised by Cherokee grandparents. Only snag there was he wasn't an orphan, and didn't have enough Cherokee blood to interest a vampire bat. From 1976 until the end of his life, Forrest Carter insisted he didn't know who this "Asa" Carter was, and why does everybody keep asking about him. I kinda think he believed that at times.
My favorite fake Indian is Iron Eyes Cody. He's a born in Louisiana, and his a momma and a poppa, they were from a Sicily. At some point in his life though, he went Indian all the way. Married an Indian girl, adopted two Cherokee kids, wouldn't leave the house unless in the buckskin getup. What an amazing thing really.
Objectively, I so admire those who go straight at whatever their heart desires. Admittedly, such behavior seldom yields positive results, but hey? It's fun to watch!
Surrounded by fake Indians! Drawing most of my life experience from B-movies, I think my line is, "Yeah, it's quiet. Too quiet."
Tonto, Jay Silverheels, I trust him. He was an authentic no kidding Indian. The Lone Ranger though? I don't trust that guy. It's not the mask, but the powder blue jumpsuit. Just saying? If I'm sitting around a campfire in the desert and cat in a powder blue jumpsuit shows up, I'm going to keep a sharp eye on him.