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.
|"Sophisticated insights on complex cross-cultural phenomena, demonstrating the disciplinary convergence characteristic of the best cultural studies about Indians . . . Anyone interested in the complex intercultural contexts of twentieth-century Indian arts and representations should read Selling the Indian."|
— Journal of American History
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
Carter Jones Meyer is Associate Professor of History and Convener of the American Studies Program at Ramapo College of New Jersey.
Diana Royer is Associate Professor of English at Miami University.