Selling the Indian
Commercializing and Appropriating American Indian Cultures
For more than a hundred years, outsiders enamored of the perceived strengths of American Indian cultures have appropriated and distorted elements of them for their own purposes—more often than not ignoring the impact of the process on the Indians themselves. This book contains eight original contributions that consider the selling of American Indian culture and how it affects the Native community. It goes beyond studies of “white shamanism” to focus on commercial ventures, challenging readers to reconsider how Indian cultures have been commercialized in the twentieth century.
Some selections examine how Indians have been displayed to the public, beginning with a “living exhibit” of Cocopa Indians at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and extending to contemporary stagings of Indian culture for tourists at Tillicum Village near Seattle. Other chapters range from the Cherokees to Puebloan peoples to Indians of Chiapas, Mexico, in an examination of the roles of both Indians and non-Indian reformers in marketing Native arts and crafts.
These articles show that the commercialization and appropriation of American Indian cultures have been persistent practices of American society over the last century and constitute a form of cultural imperialism that could contribute to the destruction of American Indian culture and identity. They offer a means toward understanding this complex process and provide a new window on Indian-white interactions.
Part I: Staging the Indian
1. The “Shy” Cocopa Go to the Fair, Nancy J. Parezo and John W. Troutman
2. Command Performances: Staging Native Americans at Tillicum Village, Katie N. Johnson and Tamara Underiner
3. Savage Desires: The Gendered Construction of the American Indian in Popular Media, S. Elizabeth Bird
4. “Beyond Feathers and Beads”: Interlocking Narratives in the Music and Dance of Tokeya Inajin (Kevin Locke), Pauline Tuttle
Part II: Marketing the Indian
5. “The Idea of Help”: White Women Reformers and the Commercialization of Native American Women’s Arts, Erik Trump
6. Saving the Pueblos: Commercialism and Indian Reform in the 1920s, Carter Jones Meyer
7. Marketing Traditions: Cherokee Basketry and Tourist Economies, Sarah H. Hill
8. Crafts, Tourism, and Traditional Life in Chiapas, Mexico: A Tale Related by a Pillowcase, Chris Goertzen