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.

Tobacco Ads
panel 2

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.


  • Jan
    July 23, 2020

    .. what I have to say about this is:
    “imitation is the highest form of flattery.” They’re not being exploited – they are being admired. There are multitude of American indian images in multitude American adverts because all Americans admire the native American, their ways and their stamina. If you’re not sure of this ~ other fruit labels indicate a myriad of other European peoples ~ would you say they are then EXPLOITING them/themselves.
    For chrisakes – this has all gotten too bloody ridiculous.
    Fruit crate lablers put images on labels of things and people that were admirable – that’s how they sold fruit. Are you picking on fruit producers for trying to sell fruit? Indians eat fruit too, they also smoke tobacco and drink lemonade. Why don’t you include a sampling of other fruit labels – multitude beautiful symbolic images of a variety of many things and people, some of the most beautiful art produced in America during this time These are beautiful images that honor, not exploit, native American indians their culture and their ways. Dishonorable would be to leave these peoples out of any American mention like they don’t or never exist/existed. This is a celebration of these peoples not a denouement – an honor nod in recognition of their accomplishments and dignity. For ficksakes .. get your pants on straight. Blah, blah, blah, blah, bleh.
    I love these images because I respect these people; I expect that’s what lablers were thinking when they labeled their products. Why not just say it’s exploitative to label product with images included. Maybe oranges could get together and becry the exploitation of oranges.

    • M. Scott Johnson
      October 4, 2022

      REALLY?…..respected so much they were disenfranchised, starved, murdered, controlled, deceived and almost totally eliminated…..if that’s respect my God what does dislike resemble?

  • Jan
    July 23, 2020

    p.s. don’t call European people ‘white.’ That’s describing people by color of skin and it’s therefore skin insultationist. From now on they’ll expect to be referred to as European American – a reference that includes multitude types of people, geography, culture, history, ways, and dignities. A colossal diversification all it’s own. Compare Hungary to Great Britian for instance; or Iceland to Greece; Lithuania to Holland. ‘White’ is a containment description that intentionally diminishes the immense diversity that actually describes the humanity and homelands of these multitude variety of peoples. And don’t forget to include the multitude other peoples present in this country – from Vietnamese to Russian; Māori to Puerto Rican – East Indian to Peruvian; who eat and enjoy fruit; who emmigrated to this country by the millions – primarily for the social benefits which that ‘stupid’ constitutional idea that describes all men as being equal and establishes a government of the people, by the people, and for the people – could offer.
    Of 250 odd recognized soveriegn Nation States in this world – there are probably none that don’t have a representative body of peoples in this country. Be non- discriminatory; slam all of them for eating and enjoying fruit with labels that include people images of individuals from all over the world; though not excluding native Americans. And don’t forget to include oranges as a special interest group that is outraged at the fruit label exploitation of their images. Or just assign fruit as a special interest group that is lobbying to end the exploitation of fruit in general by people in general.
    GooO Fruit ! 🚩
    But then .. we did plant some trees.

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