The “Crying Indian” Ad That Fooled the Environmental Movement

Behind the '70s Anti-Pollution Icon Was an Italian-American Actor—and the Beverage Industry

It’s probably the most famous tear in American history: Iron Eyes Cody, an actor in Native American garb, paddles a birch bark canoe on water that seems, at first, tranquil and pristine, but that becomes increasingly polluted along his journey. He pulls his boat ashore and walks toward a bustling freeway. As the lone Indian ponders the polluted landscape, a passenger hurls a paper bag out a car window. The bag bursts on the ground, scattering fast-food wrappers all over the Indian’s beaded moccasins. In a stern voice, the narrator …

When Variety Theaters Tantalized the Frontier West

In 19th-Century Spokane, Risqué Performances Set off a Battle Over Civil Morality

In the spring of 1897, Spokane, Washington’s Spokesman-Review published an exposé of its city’s thriving red light district—known as Howard Street. The newspaper lingered on distasteful scenes in variety theaters …

How New Mexico’s “Peons” Became Enslaved to Debt

A System Inherited From Colonial Spain Kept Americans in Servitude Even After the Civil War

Imagine a time and place where a small debt—even just a few dollars—could translate into a lifetime of servitude not only for the debtor, but also for his or her …

How Americans Can Stop Fighting the Civil War

Acknowledging Tragic Loss on All Sides Could Begin a Process of Reconciliation

It began as a loving effort to heal the South’s wounds, to properly mourn the young men who gave their lives for a lost cause, and to extract dignity from …

When Halloween Mischief Turned to Mayhem

Nineteenth-Century Urbanization Unleashed the Nation's Anarchic Spirits

Imagine. Pre-electricity, no moon. It’s late October, and the people whisper: This is the season for witchery, the night the spirits of the dead rise from their graves and hover …

Why Sheep Started So Many Wars in the American West

Each Year, an Idaho Festival Honors the Shepherds Who Sought to Keep the Peace

In early October, when the leaves turn golden and the shadows of the Sawtooth Mountains lengthen, the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival moves through south central Idaho. The festival, …