Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Indigenous Filipinos

One of the interesting practices of Coney Island and other entertainment venues of the early 1900's was to bring in indigenous people groups and put them on display. Here you can see a group of Filipino Natives in loin clothes. I am not exactly sure how this worked. To us, it looks quiet degrading. I wonder if the subjects of the display felt exploited, or whether they were enjoying the trip to America, and laughing at the crazy people willing to pay to see them.


  1. This was an early version of the "documentaries" we see on TV.

  2. Based on how the crowd is dressed, I would say the weather is rather chilly for loincloths. Too bad they didn't give the natives more blankets!
    -Anne K.

  3. I rather agree with Rebecca. There was no TV, no movie documentaries, not even any cameras, etc. This was pretty much the only way Americans got to see other cultures. There doesn't seem to be any "hooting and pointing" going on, but Anne is correct - a few more blankets might be in order.

  4. A studied guess...based on the prints on the cloth they wore and their hair pieces, I would say that they are from the Mountain Provinces of Luzon island. The coldest area of the Philippines with temperatures hovering between 8 to 18 degrees centigrade.
    True , they could use a few blankets. The way they are huddled near the fire, the weather is much colder than what they were used to in the mountains.

  5. The St. Louis World's Fair at roughly this same time brought in groups of "indigenous people" from various places around the world. I've read about the Chinese group, who were promised various concessions for coming to St. Louis, none of which ever came to pass. They were definitely not happy. Going in the other direction, Buffalo Bill, a white man, made major promises to poor Native Americans from various Plains Tribes to join his Wild West show in Europe in the 19th c, saying they'd get payment for demonstrating their culture, and could go home whenever they wanted. They never got anything but token payment, and most felt betrayed by having their culture scoffed at. Buffalo Bill Cody coerced them into staying, just so he'd have performers for his shows. So I'd suggest that besides being cold, these Phillipinos were probably huddling for personal and cultural comfort.

    1. I'd not heard that about William Cody. He's always been portrayed as being fiercely loyal to the Indians he hired, and never mistreated them in any way. He was the only unega they ever really trusted.


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