Consumption as Assimilation: New York Times Reporting on Native American Art and Commodities, 1950–1970
The appropriation of Indigenous cultures has sparked multiple controversies in the United States over the past decade. This phenomenon is not new, however. This article examines New York Times reporting on Native American art and commodities to demonstrate how trends in consuming “Indian” products contributed to the assimilationist federal Indian policy of termination, between 1950 and 1970. In this period the consumption of items perceived as “Indian” shifted from an elite art collectors’ activity to a widespread fashion trend. Nevertheless, Times reporting shows that throughout this era shopping for “Indian” items subsumed Indigenous cultures into the imagined unity of a national American identity.
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