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What Will He Do?!

This 1898 political cartoon from the Minneapolis Tribune (author unknown) depicts President McKinley with a “savage child,” labeled as The Philippines. McKinley is trying to decide whether to keep the child or give it back to Spain, which the cartoon indicates is akin to throwing it off a cliff. An anthropomorphized world looks on, indignantly.

The little savage child representing The Philippines depicts the typical image many Americans had for groups deemed to be racially inferior. The author made the native a child, referencing the child-like tendencies those classified as inferior were supposed to possess. It also is a nod to the United State’s attitude at the time towards countries they were annexing: that these countries (such as Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico etc) needed to be taught how to be civilized.

The end of the nineteenth century signaled the beginning of the United State’s imperialism. In the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the United States received the Philippines from Spain. The above cartoon is a question many Americans had as to what the government would do with the nation: Take it under its wing and bestow up them the gifts of civilization and democracy or throw them into the bottomless Catholic pit of Spain? This is where the man-earth figure in the image comes into play. The Minneapolis Tribune’s cartoonist uses this figure with his inquiring look to indicate that the correct action would be to save the savage child from the ‘Pit’ of Spain. This reflects the feelings at the time of animosity towards Spain due to the Spanish-American War and Catholicism.  Obviously, giving The Philippines independence was not an option for either the cartoonist or the American government. When it became obvious that the U.S. wasn’t going to give the native Filipinos their own government, revolt broke out. [source]

Though hotly debated, the Philippines was finally given independence through the Hare-Hawes Cutting act in 1945, of course not before the country had been physically and economically devastated by World War II. [source]

Lagniappe:

Future President Taft was Governor-General of the Philippines. Here he is on a water buffalo: 

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Aunt Jemima Pancake Flour

 

This is an advertisement dating from around 1893 for Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix. This product was created in 1889 by Charles Rutt and Charles Underwood, but was later sold in 1890 to R.T. Davis Milling Company. The idea for the name came from a black face minstrel show which Rutt attended. A performer sang “Aunt Jemima” with an apron, headscarf and black face on. Rutt decided to use the name due to the song’s popularity and the reflection of the southern mammy it brought up. 1893 was also the year R.T. Davis hired Nancy Green, a former slave, to be the icon for the mix in an effort to launch a campaign.

 The woman in the image reflects the sterotypical ideal for an African American cook or “mammy.” She has a bandana on her head, over pronounced lips and nose, and a wide grin on her face. This image is a throw back to the “happy slave” ideal in which the cook made delicious breakfasts along with warm and jolly smile. This would largely appeal to whites in the upper and middle classes. It reflected the common thought that slave women were typically fat, loyal and contantly laughing “mammy” types whose sole purpose was to provide their white family with hearty meals and adoration. This is the image the Aunt Jemima ads achieved.

The actual product was a quick mix, self-rising flour meant to make women’s lives easier and would have been used in the kitchens of the lower, middle and probably upper classes. The mix was made of wheat, corn and rice and only required the addition of water. It is now under the trademark of Quaker Oats.

This is another ad put out by the Milling Company. You can see the copious amounts of Aunt Jemima images along with her famous “I’se in town, Honey!” quote. On many advertisements, even through the 1950s, Aunt Jemima would be portrayed as speaking in “slave dialect” while the white woman she was bringing her cooking skills to, of course, spoke in perfect English.

The evolutionof Aunt Jemima has only been modernized only since 1989 for her 100th anniversary. As we can see, 50 years after her creation in the late 1940s, Aunt Jemima’s happy mammy image had not changed much:

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Native American Three Hide Dress

This is a picture, from The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, of a Cheyenne woman, Woxie Haury, in a ceremonial three-hide dress.

The Native American three-hide dress is made from three different hides: one worn as a poncho on top with two sewn together for the skirt. Originally these were made as separate pieces so the poncho could be removed in the summer but gradually in the mid-19th century the poncho would be sewn to the skirt. The dresses were sewn by hand using porcupine quills as needles. The outline of the animal was kept largely intact to honor the animal’s spirit. It is not clear when these dresses came into being, but the tradition began centuries ago, long before European contact. 

The three-hide dress was used predominately amongst the women of the Kiowa, Comanche, Apache, and Ute tribal groups, in the Southern Plains, but could be found amongst many native groups in the nineteenth century. These dresses were not only for functional use but also as a means of self-expression in adding adornments to the animal hides. The dresses were primarily ceremonial in use with extremely elaborate embellishments. These dresses became symbols of the Native American culture as certain dresses were created for specific dances or customs.

Women had to prepare the hides by hand, originally using stone tools but later metal tools, like scissors, obtained from Europeans. Native American women would decorate their dresses with fringe, shells, bone or teeth, and cloth. In the nineteenth century, women were able to obtain glass beads from trading companies, particularly those from from Italy and Czechoslovakia. Colors and designs on the dresses symbolized various tribal traditions or were created from dreams or visions.

Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the U.S. government increased pressures for Native Americans to assimilate. Many started to decorate their dresses in red, white, and blue as tribes complied with demands to participate in patriotic ceremonies, like 4th of July. The dresses were important to many indigenous people because they symbolized the Native American’s solidarity against the U.S. even as they were forced to celebrate. 

In other regions of North America, groups favored the side-fold (in the Northern/Central Plains) or two-hide (Northern Plains/Great Basin) dresses, which were also decorated in similar ways.

Today, Native Americans still create three-hide dresses for use in weddings and ceremonies. There are also a handful that are housed in museums such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (as is the one below). These are now seen as a way to connect with a tribe’s past and traditions as well as an art form. 

 

 

Modern Cheyenne Version

Modern Cheyenne Version

 

 

 

-Lauren M.

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