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The Noble Savage: The Brave
 
Description
The Brave
Noble Savage: The Brave
The male version of the noble savage is The Brave. He is peaceful, kills only to eat or to defend his family, and is not wasteful. The Brave is a spiritual, mystic guardian of the land who exists in harmony with, and as icon of America's wilderness past, as if he were an eagle or a buffalo rather than human. He is often represented in picturesque nature, showcasing some "natural" skill admired for its primitive purity, like hunting buffalo or riding a horse. The Brave imagery usually includes excessive traditional dress (especially a splendid headdress), thereby reinforcing his flawless naturalness. As a mythic icon of the past, the Brave lacks humanity. Consequentially, the Brave is always shown as stoic, lacking any real emotion, especially humor. This section also includes imagery that romanticizes the traditional Native lifestyle since it is often a key part of Brave depictions.
Background
Imagery of Native American has for hundreds of years been controlled by non-Natives. Historical events resulted in the creation by non-natives in two distinct, contradictory Indian stereotypes, the noble and ignoble savage. Neither of them are real.

The Song of Hiawatha, 1855 ed.
The Song of Hiawatha, 1855 ed.

This fabrication of the American Indian by White American culture began around the 1820s, driven by the desire to create a mythic American past. Other heroic mythologies created around this time include imagery about Christopher Columbus, the Pilgrims and their first Thanksgiving, and the casting of the Founding Fathers as demigods. With the Indians East of Appalachia subdued (and ultimately removed by the 1830s), anxiety about them subsided temporarily, allowing for national feelings about Indians to develop into a kind of schizophrenic depiction of them. There were still plenty of "bad" Indians in the American consciousness, but now there was room for re-invention, and the noble savage was created. Perhaps the single largest contribution to the creation of the Noble Savage was the publication of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's epic poem, The Song of Hiawatha in 1855. Longfellow's Hiawatha was an Indian with magic powers from the Lake Superior region who became a prophet and a guide. From the body of a stranger he conquered, Hiawatha got corn. He defeated disease-bearing Pearl-Feather with

the help of a woodpecker, whose feather tuft he streaked with red. He invented picture writing. Following the death of his beloved Minnehaha and the coming of the white man, Hiawatha left his tribe to travel through the Portals of the Sunset to the Land of the Hereafter. The poem was enormously successful and, when taught in the elementary classroom, fully romanticized the Indian in the minds of numerous American generations.

Westward expansion soon brought "civilization" across the Appalachians in large numbers, and into conflict with Plains Indians, especially after the Civil War and the building of the transcontinental railroads, and once again negative images of Indians took center stage. By 1890, following the destruction of the buffalo, the surrender of Sitting Bull, and the tragedy at Wounded Knee, the "Indian threat" had been permanently extinguished. This again allowed for the re-emergence of the Noble Savage. Wild West shows run by Buffalo Bill and others perpetuated both the noble and ignoble savage stereotypes, and even featured real Indians in the show, including Sitting Bull, and Geronimo.

One key to understanding the imagery presented below is to understand that the re-imagining of the American Indian was intimately connected with a re-imagining of nature. The raw and expansive American wilderness was central to the development of the American identity and character, and this imagery too was being re-invented, mythologized. Early on, the wilderness (which contained Indians) was conceived as a negative. William Bradford, upon landing at Plymouth in 1620, expressed real fear, describing the wilderness as "hideous and desolate, full of wild beasts and wild men." In subsequent times, the wilderness was seen sometimes as an impediment to progress, or at best, as a cornucopia of God-given resources to be consumed by civilization (with little to no thought about conservation). In short, it was the natural order of things for civilization to conquer nature. By the 1890s, much of the American wilderness, like the Indian, had been "tamed." If one wanted to have a real wilderness experience, more and more that required a visit to a few areas of the country that had been spared from "progress"--National Parks and Monuments. The wilderness, so important to self-identity, was gone.

What followed was a nostalgic romanticizing of what had been. The rampant exploitation of natural resources, and the conquering, or in some cases extermination of Natives was recast in the popular imagination as a necessary, if bittersweet consequence of progress. Indians could be depicted in all of their "natural" glory, as noble savages, mythical icons of America's wilderness past. This phenomenon allowed Americans to largely forget the ugly consequences of their expansionist past. Additionally, even though the Noble Savage is defended as being a "positive" stereotype, the result is historical amnesia and the dehumanization of real people who still exist. By cementing the Indian as an "other" from the past, it allows modern society to largely ignore the existence and plight of Native Americans today.

 
Imagery
Ethnographic Photography
Native Americans were a common subject for photographers, especially in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. As ethnography, many of these photographs have enormous value. At the same time, however, there were often conscious messages being sent. Photographs of the Native leaders Sitting Bull, and later Geronimo in captivity made it clear that civilization was in charge. One of the most famous photographers was Edwin S. Curtis. In 1906 Curtis was financed by famed banker J.P. Morgan to produce a 20 volume set of 1,500 photographs of American Indians. It is now known that Curtis staged many photographs, removed any evidence of Western material and culture (wagons, parasols, clothes, clocks), and misrepresented
Curtis Photograph: Oglala War-PartyCurtis Photograph: Oglala War-Party
photographs in their captions. He also is known to have paid natives to pose in staged scenes, wear historically inaccurate dress and costumes, dance and to engage in simulated ceremonies. Curtis' picture "Oglala War-Party" shows 10 Oglala men wearing feather headdresses, on horseback riding down hill. The photo description reads, "a group of Sioux warriors as they appeared in the days of inter tribal warfare, carefully making their way down a hillside in the vicinity of the enemy's camp." In truth headdresses would have only been worn during special occasions and, in some tribes, only by the chief of the tribe. The photograph was taken in 1907 when natives had been relegated onto reservations and warring between tribes had ended. Curtis' photographs reinforced the noble savage stereotype, thereby diverting attention away from the plight of the American Indian at a critical time when they were trying to adjust to the radical changes brought about by Western culture.
Photographs printed on cardboard known as cabinet cards, as well early 1900s postcards were also commonly produced and sold to the general public. These images too tended to reinforce The Brave caricature.
Cabinet Card, Navajo Runners
Cabinet Card, Navajo Runners
Real Photo Postcard: Cho-Sha-Wat-San-God_Man
Real Photo Postcard: Cho-Sha-Wat-San-God_Man
Real Photo Postcard: Native Dance
Real Photo Postcard: Native Dance
Real Photo Postcard: Oklahoma Indian
Real Photo Postcard: Oklahoma Indian
Real Photo Postcard: Real Bull
Real Photo Postcard: Real Bull
Real Photo Postcard: Sioux Indians at Standing Rock Reservation
Real Photo Postcard: Sioux Indians at Standing Rock Reservation
Real Photo Postcard: Standing Bear
Real Photo Postcard: Standing Bear
Real Photo Postcard: Indian Braves
Real Photo Postcard: Indian Braves
Real Photo Postcard: Chief Bacon Rind
Real Photo Postcard: Chief Bacon Rind
 
 
The Brave as Product Endorsement
The demise of the Indian coincided with the rise of a new form of advertising; the Victorian trade card. These postcard-sized lithographed images were mass produced in the latter quarter of the 19th Century and became the most important form of advertising of the era. They were widely distributed in stores and as premiums packaged with some products, and were collected by many Americans because of their often lush, colorful graphics. The manufacturers of trade cards catered to America's carnivalesque fascination with imagery, and they often mined the racial attitudes of the time to promote a sense of Euro-American middle class consumer solidarity. Blacks, Asians, Irish, and Indians were all marginalized in Victorian trade advertising in order to foster this sense of White American identity. Native exoticness became the perfect advertising vehicle. Most prevalent were Quack medicines that identified themselves with Indianness. Part of the Indian myth included the notion that Indian communion with nature put them more in tune with the natural healing powers of the earth. Indians held medicinal secrets lost to the science of civilized man, except for the product being advertised, of course. In an era of consumerism when there were virtually no regulations controlling medicinal products, manufacturers pumped out pills, oils, and potions that claimed to cure everything from falling down stairs to migraines to "women's diseases" to liver ailments. Containing mainly innocuous ingredients, these products were successfully marketed by connecting them with Indian mythology in the minds of Euro-American consumers. The use of The Brave as product endorser continued into the 20th Century, and examples can still be found today.
Victorian Trade Card: Comstock's Clipper Line
Victorian Trade Card: Comstock's Clipper Line
Victorian Trade Card: Arbuckle Coffee, 1893 (2 views)
Victorian Trade Card: Arbuckle Coffee, 1893 (2 views)
Victorian Trade Card: Cook & Langley
Victorian Trade Card: Cook & Langley
Victorian Trade Card: Dr. Kilmer's Indian Cough Cure
Victorian Trade Card: Dr. Kilmer's Indian Cough Cure
Victorian Trade Cards: Kickapoo Indian Pills (2 views)
Victorian Trade Cards: Kickapoo Indian Pills (2 views)
Chase & Sanborn Coffee Booklet: Epochs of US History
Chase & Sanborn Coffee Booklet: Epochs of US History
Victorian Trade Card: C.C. Hastings
Victorian Trade Card: C.C. Hastings
Victorian Trade Card: Cherokee Cure Gum
Victorian Trade Card: Cherokee Cure Gum (2 views)
Victorian Trade Card: Henderson & Griffith
Victorian Trade Card: Henderson & Griffith
Victorian Trade Card: Indian Wine Bitters
Victorian Trade Card: Indian Wine Bitters
Victorian Trade Card: Kickapoo Indian Remedies
Victorian Trade Card: Kickapoo Indian Remedies (2 views)
Kickapoo Oil (9 views)
Kickapoo Oil (9 views)
Victorian Trade Card: Morse's Indian Root Pills
Victorian Trade Card: Morse's Indian Root Pills
Victorian Trade Card: Wright's Vegetable Pills (2 views)
Victorian Trade Card: Wright's Vegetable Pills (2 views)
 
      Indian Head Penny (2 views)
Indian Head Penny (2 views)
Indian Head Penny, encased
Indian Head Penny, encased
Lucky Penny, 1933 (2 views)
Lucky Penny, 1933 (2 views)
Indian Motorcycle Big Chief Sidecar Ad
Indian Motorcycle Big Chief Sidecar Ad
Indian Motorcycle Ornament
Indian Motorcycle Ornament
Indian Motorcycle Decal
Indian Motorcycle Decal
Indian Motorcycle Iron Redskin Belt Buckle, 1993 (2 views)
Indian Motorcycle Iron Redskin Belt Buckle, 1993 (2 views)
Fruit Crate Label: Big Chief Canada ApplesĀ 
Fruit Crate Label: Big Chief Canada Apples 

Fruit Crate Label: Indian Warrior Florida Citrus Fruit
Fruit Crate Label: Indian Warrior Florida Citrus Fruit
Fruit Crate Label: Pala Brave Oranges
Fruit Crate Label: Pala Brave Oranges
Fruit Crate Label: Redman Apples
Fruit Crate Label: Redman Apples
Fruit Crate Label: Redskin Emperor Grapes
Fruit Crate Label: Redskin Emperor Grapes
Fruit Crate Label: Yakima Chief Apples
Fruit Crate Label: Yakima Chief Apples
General Motors Pontiac Token (2 views)
General Motors Pontiac Token (2 views)
Indian Chief Popcorn
Indian Chief Popcorn
Magic Lantern Glass Slide: Rings' Golden Herbs
Magic Lantern Glass Slide: Rings' Golden Herbs
OKeh Record Label, early 1900s
OKeh Record Label, early 1900s
Advertising Spoon: Aberdeen Wash (3 images)
Advertising Spoon: Aberdeen Wash (3 images)
Calumet Baking Powder
Calumet Baking Powder
Big Chief Washington Potatoes Sack
Big Chief Washington Potatoes Sack
Big Chief Michigan Potatoes Sack
Big Chief Michigan Potatoes Sack
Red Skin Potatoes Sack (2 views)
Red Skin Potatoes Sack (2 views)
Dr. Haile's Ole Injun Cactus Soap
Dr. Haile's Ole Injun Cactus Soap
Dr. Haile's Ole Injun Tonic Sign
Dr. Haile's Ole Injun Tonic Sign
Baker's Indin Root Beer Beverage Base (4 views)
Baker's Indian Root Beer Beverage Base (4 views)
Big Chief Bottle Opener
Big Chief Bottle Opener
Red Indian Station Playing Cards (2 views)
Red Indian Station Playing Cards (2 views)
Red Indian Motor Oil Can
Red Indian Motor Oil Can
Big Chief Soda Bottle
Big Chief Soda Bottle
Big Chief Strawberry Soda Bottle Cap
Big Chief Strawberry Soda Bottle Cap
Cherikee Red Soda Can
Cherikee Red Soda Can (2 views)
Big Chief Writing Tablet
Big Chief Writing Tablet
Big Chief Writing Tablet
Big Chief Writing Tablet
Wigwam Coffee Tin
Wigwam Coffee Tin
Daisy's Snack Magazine Advertisement, 1966
Daisy's Snack Magazine Advertisement, 1966

Keep America Beautiful PSA, 1971
filmKeep America Beautiful PSA, 1971

Back By Popular Neglect PSA, 1998
filmBack By Popular Neglect PSA, 1998

Redinjun Firecrackers
Redinjun Firecrackers
Remember Forgetting Firecrackers
Remember Forgetting Firecrackers
Big Chief Sugar, 2007
Big Chief Sugar, 2007
(2 views)
Indian Salted Pumpkin Seeds, 2009 (2 views)
Indian Salted Pumpkin Seeds, 2009 (2 views)
 
 

Tobacco
The use of The Brave as an advertisement for tobacco is a special category. Most famous were the "cigar store Indians" or "wooden Indians", sometimes produced as large as life-sized, that were set outside of tobacco shops to draw customers the way that barber poles were used easily identify barber shops. Use of the cigar store Indian gradually fell out of use in the 20th century, but the image of the noble brave as tobacco endorser continues today.

A common artistic depiction of The Brave has him either sitting or standing with a "peace pipe" in hand. The term "peace pipe" is a misnomer, based on only one type of pipe and one way it was used. Various types of ceremonial pipes, called calumets, have been used by multiple Native American cultures, with the style of calumet, materials smoked, and ceremonies involved being unique to the distinct religions of those Nations.

Cigar store Indian
Cigar store Indian
 
Victorian Trade Card: You Smoke Up
Victorian Trade Card: You Smoke Up
Cigar Store Indian, Old Honesty
Cigar Store Indian, Old Honesty
Injun Brand Cigar Box
Injun Brand Cigar Box
Big Chief Matchbook
Big Chief Matchbook
Doorstop, Indian with Peace Pipe
Doorstop, Indian with Peace Pipe
Tobacco Card: American Indian
Tobacco Card: American Indian (2 views)
Tobacco Card: Elk Hunting Disguised as Buffalo
Tobacco Card: Elk Hunting Disguised as Buffalo (2 views)
Tobacco Card: Stalking The Antelope
Tobacco Card: Stalking The Antelope (2 views)
Cast Iron Bank (2 views)
Cast Iron Bank (2 views)
 
Indian With Peace Pipe (2 views)
Indian With Peace Pipe (2 views)
Red Cloud Brand Cigar Label
Red Cloud Brand Cigar Label
Redskin Brand Tobacco Spitoon (2 views)
Redskin Brand Tobacco Spittoon (2 views)
Natural American Spirit Cigarettes, 2010
Natural American Spirit Cigarettes, 2010
Red Man Chewing Tobacco
Red Man Chewing Tobacco, 2010
 
The Brave as Souvenir
Souvenirs are another form of product endorsement. Not surprisingly, many towns and states over the years have sought to forget the past and to identify themselves as connected to America's wilderness past through the noble savage and a romantic notion of Indianness.
Adirondack Mountains Souvenir Drum, c.1980s (2 views)
Adirondack Mountains Souvenir Drum, c.1980s (2 views)
Pennant: Boyne City, MI (2 views)
Pennant: Boyne City, MI (2 views)
Pennant: Fort Ancient, OH (2 views)
Pennant: Fort Ancient, OH (2 views)
Pennant: Petoskey, MI (2 views)
Pennant: Petoskey, MI (2 views)
Drinking Glass
Drinking Glass: Famous Ohio Indian: Pontiac, the Red Napoleon (3 views)
Postcard: Greetings From Evanston, WY
Postcard: Greetings From Evanston, WY
Postcard: Ready For The Pow Wow (2 views)
Postcard: Ready For The Pow Wow (2 views)
Postcard: Greetings From Yuma, Arizona
Postcard: Greetings From Yuma, Arizona
Postcard: Indian Fire Dancer
Postcard: Indian Fire Dancer
 
 
Early 1900s Music
The Noble Savage became a specific genre of music during the early 1900s, at a time when the music recording industry was in its infancy. Sheet music with noble savage imagery on the cover was very popular, and went a long way toward reinforcing the noble savage caricatures. Samples of sheet music, and some early cylinder recordings are presented below.
"Waupanseh" (1903)
"Waupanseh" (1903)
"Fleetfoot" (1906)
"Fleetfoot" (1906)
"Flying Arrow" (1906)
"Flying Arrow" (1906)
"Flying Arrow" by Edison Military Band (1906)
sound "Flying Arrow" by Edison Military Band (1906)
"Rainbow" (1908)
"Rainbow" (1908)
"Happy Hunting Grounds" (1909)
"Happy Hunting Grounds" (1909)
"Red-Man" (1909)
"Red-Man" (1909)
"Wyandotte" (1909)
"Wyandotte" (1909)
"Cloud-Chief" (1910)
"Cloud-Chief" (1910)
"Cloud-Chief" by American Symphony Orchestra (1910)
sound "Cloud-Chief" by American Symphony Orchestra (1910)
"Indian Dawn" (1919)
"Indian Dawn" (1919)
"Waters of the Perkiomen" (1925)
"Waters of the Perkiomen" (1925)
     
 
The Brave as Art
Print: Brave in Canoe, early 1900s
Print: Brave in Canoe, early 1900s
Handmade Teepee & Canoe
Handmade Teepee & Canoe
Print: Braves Admire Automobile, c.1910
Print: Braves Admire Automobile, c.1910
Picture with battery-operated lights
Picture with battery-operated lights

film[video of lights in action]

 
 
The Brave in Hollywood
(This section is planned for the future)
 
The Brave in Comic Books
The Native American has a long history in the American comic book, appearing most frequently when Western-themed comics were popular during the post-WWII years of the Golden Age (1946-1958). Mostly a plot device, the Indian male was the typically cast as the ignoble savage, while the Indian woman was virtually nowhere to be seen. There were a few examples of the noble savage as well, most notably with the beautiful painted covers of the Indian Chief series and in the character of Tonto, the Lone Ranger's loyal sidekick. A more detailed examination of this subject is planned for the future. In the meantime, some examples of The Brave caricature on comic book covers from the 1950s are presented below.
Indian Chief #22
Indian Chief #22
Indian Chief #23
Indian Chief #23
Indian Chief #24
Indian Chief #24
Lone Ranger #25
Lone Ranger #25
Long Bow #1
Long Bow #1
Tonto #2
Tonto #2
Young Eagle #1
Young Eagle #1
Young Eagle #5
Young Eagle #5
   
 
The Brave as Household Item
Big Chief Cookie Jar, by McCoy
Big Chief Cookie Jar, by McCoy
Indian Head Salt Shaker (3 views)
Indian Head Salt Shaker (3 views)
Figurine: Indian in Eagle Canoe
Figurine: Indian in Eagle Canoe
Salt & Pepper Shakers
Salt & Pepper Shakers
Salt & Pepper Shakers
Salt & Pepper Shakers
 
The Brave as Toy
Bicycle Handlebar Mount
Bicycle Handlebar Mount, 1950s
(2 views)
Big Chief Bow & Arrow Set
Big Chief Bow & Arrow Set
Big Chief Game Board
Big Chief Game Board
Big Chief Indian Set Costume
Big Chief Indian Set Costume
Big Chief Indian Sign Language Card GameBig Chief Indian Sign Language Card Game
(2 views)

Big Chief Pinball Machine Booklet
Big Chief Pinball Machine Booklet
Sterling Indian Ring
Sterling Indian Ring
Play Cut Outs, 1938
Play Cut Outs, 1938 (4 views)
Indian Motif Toy Drum (2 views)
Indian Motif Toy Drum (2 views)
Indian Crafts Catalogue
Indian Crafts Catalogue, 1975
(4 sample views)
Eastern Friendly Indians Model (3 views)
Eastern Friendly Indians Model (3 views)
Drum With Painted Indians
Drum With Painted Indians (2 views)
     
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