Exploitation For Profit
Stereotypes of Native Americans have been exploited in advertising, merchandising, and trademarks for decades. The Museum Of UnCut Funk examines the images of Native Americans on Fruit Crate Labels from the 1900s through the 1950s. Although these images are beautiful to look at and highly collectible we wanted to highlight how Native Americans were used to market tobacco and food products for mass consumption.
Associating the image of Native Americans with tobacco was a boom to cigar advertising. Their lithographed images were mass produced in the last half of the 19th Century and became an important symbol of America’s progress. This connection can be traced back to when Native Americans introduced the Native Plant to the Europeans. For the Native American, tobacco had great supernatural power, and smoking was an intimate part of tribal ceremonies.
During the 1880s, crate labels were designed to draw attention to food being shipped in crates and make them stand out at public markets. By the end of the 19th century, images of Native Americans had become commonplace in American advertising. Almost all of these images had nothing to do with the real lives of Native Americans nor advertising products and services to them. Instead these images were used to as exotic imagery to create advertising directed a white market.
The Museum Of UnCut Funk gathered a number of crate labels from the early 1900’s through 1950’s that used Tribal names of Native Americans as the branded items.