Many Americans easily recognize James Earle Fraser’s famous statue, The End of the Trail, which first appeared at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. But despite its popularity, the statue does not accurately represent the participation of American Indians in the fair. Instead, during the nine months of the PPIE, Indians rode in cars and airplanes, performed traditional ceremonies, admired the attractions of the Zone and the rest of the fair, attacked Custer, met Father Serra, deposited money in the bank, and smoked cigarettes. They maintained their Indian identities while taking advantage of the novel and economic opportunities the fair offered, whether that meant a new set of teeth, a ride in an airplane, money to send home to their families, or a platform for campaigning for better treatment by the government. Although the vanishing race rhetoric expressed by the statue complemented the PPIE’s larger messages about progress, expansionism, and conquest, analysis of the performances, daily lives, and media depictions of the fair reveals a multiplicity of discourses about the relationship between Indians and U.S. culture.
Abigail Markwyn is associate professor of history at Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin. She is author ofEmpress San Francisco: the Pacific Rim, the GreatWest, and California at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, and co-editor of Gendering the Fair: Histories of Women and Gender at World’s Fairs.
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Program begins 6:00PM
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