Anda di halaman 1dari 14

Selling

the American Indian


















By:
Chris Mertz


Historical Methods
HIST 3020
May 11th , 2015


Throughout American history, the treatments of the Native American Indians


have been one of subjectivity. With the colonial takeover of the Americas in the late
15th century, Native Americans were under European supremacy since. Fast
forward to the 19th century, which by this time America had gained its
independence from England and the newly created United States was looking to
expand westward. The Louisiana Purchase was the gateway for the United States go
forth in moving westward and with that is where Lewis and Clark gained their
reputation. Mistreatment of the Indians came from misunderstandings of their
culture and who they were as a people; Lewis and Clark were offended by the peace
offering gifts that were presented to them by the Lakota Sioux. Through this Lewis
ordered his men to arms, and Clark issued various threats. By one account, Clark
said he had more medicine on board his boat than would kill twenty such nations in
one day.1 This expansion westward, it only continued the mindset of further
mistreatment of Native Americans. During the mid to late 1800s, the image of the
Native American began to be used for theatrical purposes in wild west shows such
as infamous Buffalo Bill Cody, Pawnee Bill, and many others who told a fabricated
story of cowboys and Indians and the movement out west. This exploitation of
American Indian culture caught on like a wild fire. Transitioning into the 20th
century, the image of the Native Americans not only created a stereotype for these
people, but was also used for business purposes. From the 1920s to the 1940s, the
stereotypical representation of the Native American was used to advertise products

1 Ostler, Jeffrey. The Plains Sioux and US Colonialism from Lewis and Clark to
Wounded Knee New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 20.

and tourist destinations, which in turn created a cultural expectation for a current
society of American Indians.

The stereotypical image that transpired through the advertising of Native

Americans set an expectation and implications followed. Implications such as


societys expectation that every Native American was supposed to be living off of the
wealth of the land, having a feather placed their hair, and wearing authentic Indian
clothing. Through that set of standards of appearance, Native American didnt feel
like they could do anything else. They were treated as a lesser people as they were
in the 19th century.

In 1978, Diane H. Thomas wrote the book Southwestern Indian Detours, and it

was treated as an instructive and historical guide for tourists who were interested
in traveling through the southwest United States. In the title alone, it implies that
Native American exposure will not only be present, but the vocal point of the
detour. The word itself expresses that its not a destination where one would want
to vacation for a week but rather it is a place to stop and explore the area for a day
or two. From Thomas book, she explains the root of, the companys name, This
would be a detour, a detour to see the Indian pueblos, the Indian ruins; why not call
it the Indian Detour? Agreed.2 Within that one sentence, this company not only
provides the image that the Hopi tribe or Indians of the southwest are treated as an
object to be viewed upon by tourist. Also, by incorporating the word Indian in the
name of the company, this only stresses the point of Indian exploitation to gain a
profit off of a culture.

2 Darnall, Diane Thomas. The Southwestern Indian Detours: The Story of the Fred
Harvey/Santa Fe Experiment in Detourism. Phoenix: Hunter Pub. 1978. 45.

Its interesting to analyze the photographs within the book because they

want to expose the Indianness of the location but still make it comfortable for the
traveler. By doing this, the traveler has a sense of familiarity and is more welcome to
the idea of visiting rather than not. One aspect of this is the presence of Christian
churches. As seen in Appendix 1A, the photographer made it a point to get the
message of the Hopi people but that Christian ideals are planted in that area. Along
with that presence comes the message of assimilation. By having the church there, it
shows visitors that there is no harm coming from what could potentially be savage
Indians, but with the planting of an Anglo Christian church, the threat no longer
exists and shows that they have adopted it to live a better life. Having the subtle
but obvious Christian existence in the areas of this Indian Detour, it provides the
traveler with the comforts of familiarity and one of a message that these Native
Indians are assimilated and will not be a treat. All in all, the Indian Detour Company
wanted the native experience to be very real but real in a single sighted manner.

So what do these tourist see on the Indian Detour? Is it more of a drive by

experience or is it more of a first hand account with the Hopi Indians? The whole
experience was a blended effort in being able to visit an area rich of Hopi Indians
and Native culture, which could have been done either by driving through the area
but also the opportunities to stop and explore were also present. By stopping, a
tourist would gain what they thought as only an authentic experience as much as it
could possibly be done. Business realized this, so the implementation of interaction
and product consumption with the tourist would benefit both the Hopi and Indian
Detour. As shown in Appendix 1C, the appearance of Hopi women selling hand

made pottery that would lie at the feet of the culturally interested traveler for easy
picking and convenient timing. Philip J. Deloria, author of the book Playing Indian,
backs the mentality of the Indian Detour Company by stating that it is an authentic
experience for the traveler and that the pottery serves a slight example of this. But
real Indians still existed, and Indian pueblos were in fact rapidly becoming
attractive destination points of travelers in the American Southwest, where tourists,
like ethnographers, sought to touch an authentic past by touching a contemporary
Indian person.3 This idea of touching a contemporary Indian person is one that
vacationers look forward to doing and one that the business expects to have happen.
If the Indians have a positive interaction with the guests than business increases,
but if the interactions are either negative or non-existent, than Indian Detour loses
the lasting-effect they wanted travelers to leave with and business goes down.

The authentic, as numerous scholars have pointed out, is a culturally

constructed category created in opposition to a perceived state of inauthenticity.


The authentic serves as a way to imagine and idealize the real, the traditional, and
the organic in opposition to the less satisfying qualities of everyday life those
seeking authenticity have already defined their own state as inauthentic, they easily
locate authenticity in the figure of an Other.4 That Other can very well be the
purchasing of Native goods, visiting locations of significant events in Native culture,
and simply just having a one on one conversation with an authentic Indian. One
last example from Diane H. Thomass book is the portrayal of the tourists or
workers of the Indian Detour, having a pleasant conversation with Southwestern

3 Deloria, Philip Joseph. Playing Indian. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 106.
4 Deloria, Philip Joseph. Playing Indian. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 101.

Indians. Appendix 1D provides the viewer the image of a Native man having a
conversation with a Courier of Indian Detour in which both natives pictured, show
that it is a peaceful time. The interesting thing about photography in the historical
sense is if the photograph is staged in order to guide the viewer into seeing what
they want to see, for example the two photographs of the churches from before and
hiding what reality is within the setting of the pictures. Looking again at Appendix
1D, initially it seems like its a peaceful conversation and its just another day but
what did the photographer want to portray of the Hopi man and the Courier? Was
this an attempt to present the idea that there is no turmoil between the Native
Americans and the White Americans? Photography is hardly a simple mirror of
reality. The meanings behind each image must be uncovered through careful
exploration and analysis. On the surface, certainly, photographs often provide the
historian with the wealth of concrete detail The photographic details communicate
a stirring casefull of subjectivity as well as objective intent.5 Roland Merchand,
the author of the book Advertising the American Dream also discusses the fact of
portrayal through photography. None of the canons of this new art defined the
photographer as merely a passive recorder of literal fact. Romanticized as artists,
photographers assumed the role of active manipulators of their subjects.6 Yes, this
photograph of friendly interaction could have been true and real with laughter and
peace but at the same time the photographer could have asked them to give off this

5 Davidson, James West, and Mark H. Lytle. After the Fact: The Art of Historical
Detection. New York: Knopf, 1982. 224.

6 Marchand, Roland. Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity,
1920-1940. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. 149.

image in order to promote business in saying that all is well with the Whites and
Natives.

Moving forward with the idea of using the Native American image to promote

a business, it can also be used in order to verify the quality of certain products. This
deemed not only true for Pawnee Bill and his Indian Trading Post in the late 19th
century but Native products were the focus of the entire store. Pawnee Bill and his
business would mail out catalogues to people who would voluntarily sign up to
receive them and they could shop for handmade authentic Indian products. When
one would turn the front cover over, they would be presented with a letter from
Pawnee Bill saying, We have 120,000 Indians within 150 miles of the Trading Post,
which gives us the greatest opportunity of securing the remnants of the plains
Indians. Both Mr. Ray O. Lyon and Major Lillie Pawnee Bill are known to every tribe
that exists to-day, and it is through the great personal friendship with the various
Indian tribes, that gives us an opportunity of securing much of the historical
ceremonial articles that have made the Indian tribes so attractive and interesting7
By providing the number of Indians in the area the notion that they have great
opportunities to gain Native products and distribute it to the buyer either directly
from the store or through mail was supported. Looking at the language of it, they
are presenting the notion that they are gaining these products through personal
friendship rather than it being an entirely business relationship. The catalogue
itself is 24-pages and 80% of it is a long list of varied items a customer can buy.
From Indian herbs, to beaded moccasins, to complete costumes that covers head to

7 Catalog for Native American Items Pawnee Bill Papers Accession #9477 Box 1
Folder 1. University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.

toe as shown in Appendix 2. Their products were not only exposing the Native
Americans but they modeled these products in order to emphasize the authenticity
they hold and that the customer could purchase the real thing. It would be a
different thing if the outfits were on a manikin or just on a hanger, but since the
Indians are modeling the outfits it provides a sense of verification and approval that
people are buying the products and it reassures the buyer that they are getting the
real thing. The image doesnt only portray the products but it also creates the
stereotypical appearance of what a Native looks like both before and after the
assimilation process. This appearance is one that makes them look like they are not
with current society and still living a very savage and ancient lifestyle. When in
reality, most Natives were not living this way. Native Americans during this time
were fighting to retain tribal land rights, boarding schools were implemented on the
reservations, and cultural identity was becoming an issue. The goal of bringing
Native Americans into civilized white society backfired as white-educated Native
Americans and those increasingly familiar with white society, laws, and government
started organizing and fighting alongside whites for Native American rights to land,
religion, and education in the early 1900s.8 These issues were current society
issues with current society Native Americans. They werent stuck in the past of
wearing traditional clothing and living in a traditional manner. These people were
living just like their white counterparts.


8 Progressive Era: 1890-1920s: Native Americans Fight for Land, Identity, &
Education. Progressive Era: 1890-1920s: Native Americans Fight for Land, Identity,
& Education. 2015

Another example of how the image and culture of Native Americans was used

in order to justify the quality of a product was with the DeMaris Hot Springs and
Mineral Water. These hot springs are located in Big Horn County, Wyoming near
Cody and the DeMaris Company decided to implement the history of the springs in
order to push the significance it holds. In a brochure advertising for the springs on
the second page it states Crow Indians encamped at the Stinking Waters (Now
DeMaris Springs) in 1860 the great Absakora or Crow Indian tribe kept a permanent
camp for the sick here. Other tribes, the Sioux, Cheyennes, Shoshones and
Arapahoes all visited them.9 If the Indians kept a permanent camp there then it
must be good right? Well thats the message that was sent. Further on in the
brochure they were able to have the infamous Buffalo Bill Cody comment on the
springs by saying I myself have come, when worn out with my labors,- always to go
forth with new life and vigor. The magnetic and quickening effects of these waters
must be tested to be realized. The rejuvenating effects are marvelous, which but
voices the expressions of thousands of white and red men alike.10 It is possible
Buffalo Bill could have been truly expressing his feelings for the springs but its
important to consider that DeMaris, being close to Buffalo Bills headquarters of
Cody, Wyoming, that they could have offered to pay him to say such things. Words
such as these waters must be tested to be realized make it sound more of an
advertising provcation rather than ones personal description of their experience.
DeMaris used the historical aspect of the springs to provide knowledge of their

9 Joseph C. Spenser Collection Acc. No. 1994 Box #2 Article Folder- DeMaris Natural
Mineral Water, University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.
10 Joseph C. Spenser Collection Acc. No. 1994 Box #2 Article Folder- DeMaris Natural
Mineral Water, University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.

importance, but where is the image of the Native Indian to support the product.
Well, Appendix 3 shows a very standard looking Indian with the head dress apparel
and his hand reaching out front to present the idea of him advising one to take
advantage of the water because it is full of life and healing. The use of the
stereotypical Native American image was used to help solidify the presentation of
the springs and used as a marketing strategy in that ties the customer to the earth as
the Native Americans once did before.

This marketing of the American Indian so presented has been a black and

white portrayal. Coming back to the southwestern Indians and looking at Santa Fes
tourism flyer from 1947, they do something that was different from other findings.
This was the implementation of color in advertising the Native Americans. Whether
printing in black and white was cheaper and more efficient, the color print provides
more of a message. Shown in Appendix 4 is a group of Southwestern Indians looking
not overly happy but not uncomfortable. There is a sense of content from their faces
in terms of where they are living. The colors themselves set the mood for this piece
of artwork. There are a lot of bright and vibrant colors that are welcoming to the eye
and through that they are sending a message that says come visit Santa Fe and we
welcome you to our beautiful land that is full of culture. Another thing to look at
and it continues this cultural expectation for the Indians is the clothing they are
wearing. It appears to be very traditional with the exception of the lady on the far
left, who is wearing more of a western style outfit. This expectation is only backed
by the constant use of the stereotypical appearance of these Native Indian people.

10

Overall, these portrayals and the language used to advertise and exploit the Native
American makes the Indian seem like a subject or a thing. Its the mentality of
being able to not only view these people but their culture, as if they are it is an
archeological site. Its there to be observed for entertainment and educational
purposes, but all it is, is a thing of the past.
The use of advertising has forced a stereotypical image of these people and
one that is culturally insensitive. Of the supporting actors and actresses in the
social tableaux, few were more stereotyped than the children. Two children
invariably meant a boy and a girl, never two girls or two boys. Virtually never were
children described or depicted in such a ways to suggest distinctly individual
personalities. Except when the selling message specifically dictated otherwise11
This same type of approach is true for the stereotypical image of Native Americans.
The image of a tan skinned, longhaired, skinny person wearing a headdress with
leather clothing and beadwork through out is what the cultural norm is for Native
American people, which has been created through businesses and their advertising.
Really looking at it from a big picture standpoint not only these businesses but also
many others across the nation have basically been pimping out the Native American
culture with the products and land tied to those products. As seen in the Indian
Detours, that company exploited the land of the Hopi in order to benefit from the
tourist dollar. From the 1920s to the 1940s, the stereotypical representation of the
Native American was used to advertise products and destinations, which in turn
created a cultural expectation for current society American Indians. The image that

11 Marchand, Roland. Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity,
1920-1940. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. 191.

11

the general public envisions when the idea of a Native American enters their mind is
what was expected of these American Indians in both the showcase tourist
destinations and in everyday life outside of these destinations. This expectation was
created through advertising and media efforts in order to sell products and welcome
people to a region typically not known to tourism traffic.




































12

Bibliography

Primary Sources:

Appendix 1A. Diane Thomas Darnall Box Accession # 9688-89-03-22. Kodak Film
Box. University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.

Appendix 1B. Diane Thomas Darnall Box Accession # 9688-89-03-22. Kodak Film
Box. University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.

Appendix 1C. Diane Thomas Darnall Box Accession # 9688-89-03-22. Kodak Film
Box. University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.

Appendix 1D. Diane Thomas Darnall Box Accession # 9688-89-03-22. Kodak Film
Box. University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.

Appendix 2. Catalog for Native American Items Pawnee Bill Papers Accession #9477
Box 1 Folder 1. University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.

Appendix 3. Joseph C. Spenser Collection Acc. No. 1994 Box #2 Article Folder-
DeMaris Natural Mineral Water. University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.

Appendix 4. Diane Thomas Darnall Box Accession # 9688-89-03-22, University of
Wyoming. American Heritage Center.

Secondary Sources:
Deloria, Philip Joseph. Playing Indian. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998. 101-
106.

Darnall, Diane Thomas. The Southwestern Indian Detours: The Story of the Fred
Harvey/Santa Fe Railway Experiment in Detourism. Phoenix, Ariz.: Hunter Pub.,
1978. 45.

Davidson, James West, and Mark H. Lytle. After the Fact: The Art of Historical
Detection. New York: Knopf, 1982. 224.

Marchand, Roland. Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity,
1920-1940. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. 149-191.

Ostler, Jeffrey. The Plains Sioux and US Colonialism from Lewis and Clark to Wounded
Knee New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. 20.

13

Progressive Era: 1890-1920s: Native Americans Fight for Land, Identity, &
Education. Progressive Era: 1890-1920s: Native Americans Fight for Land, Identity,
& Education. 2015. http://www.museumca.org/picturethis/timeline/progressive-
era-1890-1920s/native-americans-fight-land-identity-education/info

14