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Monday, November 29, 2010

Selling Out the Red Man: American Advertisers Portray the Natives

WARNING: The following cartoons contain racist imagery and slurs.

To close out our series on Native American Heritage Month (until next year), we bring you artist Livingston Hopkins’ Big Scalper & Big Smoker.

During the nineteenth century, there were a great number of sources that reinforced the projected image that Native Americans were uncivilized, hostile, and lazy savages, thus justifying to the expanding European descendant/immigrant population the stealing of native land, and destruction/decimation of their cultures. Amongst these sources, was popular advertising, some of whom used cartoon and comic strip humor to capture the attention of their intended audience. The images shown here, are but a single example.

Above, from the back pages of the November 1872 issue of the magazine Harper’s Monthly, we find the early Hopkins comic strip story, Big Scalper — A Legend of the Noble Red Man. Though not an advertisement, it is shown here, as it served as the basis for the comic strip story Hopkins created below, for tobacco company W.T. Blackwell.

Big Smoker — A Legend of Blackwell’s Durham — also by Livingston Hopkins — was first published January 22nd, 1878, as a giveaway comic advertising Genuine Durham Smoking Tobacco. In 1908, on the 30th anniversary of its publication, Durham Tobacco reprinted the pamphlet (the scans here were made from a 1908 copy). (A “drummer“, for those who haven’t seen our earlier series, is late 19th century jargon for a travelling salesman.)

To see the prior entries in our Native American Heritage Month series, click here. This is just the tip of the iceberg of what we could show on this subject, so, we’ll be back next November with more.

Doug Wheeler

AdvertisingStrips NativeAmericanHistory


Doug

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2 Responses to “Selling Out the Red Man: American Advertisers Portray the Natives”

  1. Super I.T.C.H » Blog Archive » Tigwissel Tuesdays #6: Tigwissel Antecedents: Professor Prag Says:

    [...] his house to scratching (page two), appeared on pages 861 & 862, of the November 1859 issue of Harper’s Monthly [...]

  2. Super I.T.C.H » Blog Archive » Selling of the Black Man: 19th Century Comic Strip Advertising Says:

    [...] showing African Americans in a denigrating way (just as they did with Native Americans — click here to see — and other [...]

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