Throughout modern, consumption-obsessed history, there have been a zillion products named for Indians—just on the highways you’ll find Jeep Cherokees, Winnebago RVs, plenty of Pontiacs and some Indian motorcycles. While using Native American imagery isn’t the most courteous thing, it could conceivable be done in a respectrul or at least neutral manner.
Then we have these advertisements. None of the products being hawked have Indian names, nor is their function inherently “Indian” in nature. They’re just products (well, the last one is a charity), and some budding Don Draper thought that the best way to get them noticed would be to make a joke about Indians. Often the joke is simply inserting an Indian into a modern situation; other times it’s distorting Native culture to make some point about cigarettes or life insurance. When in doubt, simply draw an Indian next to your product or put a feather in your model’s hair and drop in some stereotypical pidgin English. “Heap big savings, me no spend-um big bucks” et cetera. It writes itself.
Here’s our first installment of incredibly and totally unnecessarily racist ads featuring Native Americans.
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1. “Will not save an Indian’s scalp from his enemies…”
Maybe not, but it’s highly unlikely that a product called “Dr. Scott’s Electric Hair Brush” will stop dandruff.
2. Cultural sensitivity from the folks who brought you “You’ve come a long way, baby.”
The patronizing totem pole lists demeaning names for Native women—”Princess Wash And Scrub,” “Little Running Water Fetcher,” “Keeper of the Teepee,” “Princess Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Preparer,” “Woman Who Gathers Firewood,” “Princess Buffalo Robe Sewer,” “Little Woman Who Weaves All Day,” and “Woman Who Plucks Feathers for Chief’s Headdress”—suggesting they were oppressed by Native men. In fact, most Native cultures were far ahead of Europeans when it came to equality among genders.
3. “Envy the Savage? Yes!”
“We moderns eat soft, civilized foods.” The struggle is real.
4. “Iroquois Scare-Devil”
Put away your beliefs and buy life insurance.
5. Making light of another culture’s revered leaders is…
Hilarious. Always hilarious.
6. How funny it would be if Indians wore coats!
7. How funny it would be if Indians drove cars!
8. “Heap big savings!”
There’s nothing more stereotypically Native American than rayon undergarments, is there?
9. “My skin is dark but my heart is white.”
Interestingly he is holding “his letter,” which is handwritten, and the buck-fifty he is chipping in (to this WWI-era fund for soldiers’ families) and next to it there is a typewritten “translation.”
10. “The ‘Red Skins’ are here”
We assume Dan Snyder owns a few pairs of these.