Monday, September 20, 2010


I have always been interested in Native American postcards. Perhaps it is because my grandmother, Grace Poole Steinberg, was an amateur Indian historian. She even was made an honorary member of the Omaha tribe for her work in preserving the grave of Big Elk in the 1950's.

Some of the earlier postcards (circa 1900) were published near the time of the last of the Indian Wars (1898 Leech Lake Minnesota Battle of Sugar Point and 1918 Battle of Bear Valley in Southern Arizona). Postcards from that era often featured great warriors, scouts and leaders.

This postcard shows Sioux Indian Chief Iron Hail, a survivor of Wounded Knee. Listed on ebay here

Here is a group of Chiefs from British Columbia (listed on ebay here)

And a group of Sioux Chiefs (listed on eBay here)

Sometimes the older postcards showed women and babies. This one of "Bright Eyes" is lovely (eBay listing)
This 1908 postcard shows the plight of some older Puget Sound Siwash members in Seattle WA (found here in my eBay listing):

Many of the postcards that we "think" depict everyday life might indeed be "staged" for the tourist trade. Fred Harvey was famous for promoting the American Southwest and owned a chain of restaurants and hotels. He also published postcards.

"Harvey is also known for pioneering the art of commercial cultural tourism. His "Indian Detours" were meant to provide an authentic Native American experience by having actors stage a certain lifestyle in the desert in order to sell tickets to unwitting tourists.[4] Fred Harvey's feats of marketing did not stop at the attraction either, as for tour guides he used attractive women in outfits becoming their figures. " Wikipedia

I guess we must appreciate those postcards for what they were. Many, particularly those published by the Detroit Publishing Company for Fred Harvey are very beautiful.

Here are some women displaying their handcrafts: (eBay listing)

Here is a Chimayo Rug weaver at his loom (eBay listing)

A third "genre" of Native American Postcards are the "comic" postcards of the 1940's and 1950's demonstrating prejudice or derogatory comments. These may be of some cultural interest (not Native American culture but the American culture in general at that time). I don't collect these postcards and don't have any to show here.

My Native American postcard listings can be found in my eBay store here: Moody Mommy's Marvelous Postcard Store - Native American

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