Working the Indian Field Days: The Economy of Authenticity and the Question of Agency in Yosemite Valley

Article by Boyd Cothran in the American Indian Quarterly

 Date published: April 1, 2010

Broad cultural expectations are both the products and the tools of domination. . . . It is critical, then, that we question expectations and explore their origins, for they created - and they continue to reproduce - social, political, legal, and economic relations that are asymmetrical, sometimes grossly so.
Philip Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places
The place of a tactic belongs to the other. . . . Whatever it wins, it does not keep. It must constantly manipulate events in order to turn them into "opportunities." The weak must continually turn to their own ends forces alien to them.
Michel de Certeau, Practices of Everyday Life
On the evening of September 3, 1929, Hazel Hogan's hair prevented her from being Indian enough to play the part of Miss Yosemite during the Yosemite Indian Field Days. She had spent the day stiffening and shaping her dark, thick hair into a stylish marcel. For weeks beforehand she had worn her hair in tightly woven braids that cascaded down her back or rested upon her shoulders. She had worn elaborately designed buckskin dresses decorated with intricate beadwork. Appearing before authences in such costumes, Hogan had won the admiration of all. National Park Service (NPS) officials and local businessmen alike requested to be photographed alongside Hogan. Many took the opportunity as a chance to "play Indian" themselves, donning their own buckskin shirts and warpaint.' The news media heaped praise upon Hogan for embodying their expectation of what an "authentic Indian" should be: she was a "pretty Indian maiden" and the "most beautiful maiden among the Indians."2 Yet Hogan's decision to exchange her braids, with their accompanying marker of Indian authenticity, for the stylish, modern, and, in the minds of NPS officials, decidedly un- Indian marceled waves resulted in immediate condemnation from those who sought to control her public image. Upon seeing Hogan's hair, NPS official Herbert Wilson threatened to fire Hogan and refused to allow her to appear in the evening's performance. "If you don't get that marcell completely out before the Field days," one reporter quoted him as saying, "I'll have to try and find another queen."3 As a result of her actions and the reactions of park officials, Hogan had discovered that within the context of the Field Days white expectations of what constituted Indian authenticity created both opportunities and restrictions for those who sought to navigate its ever-shifting shoals.
The story of Hazel Hogan captures well the tension that existed when individual political economies operated within racial expectations of Indian authenticity. Originally conceived by NPS officials as a way to "revive and maintain [the] interest of Indians in their own games and industries," the Yosemite Indian Field Days were part rodeo, part pageant, and part craft fair.4 Held in the late summer from 1916 to 1929, the Field Days purported to bring white tourists into contact with an authentic, exotic, and innocuous Indian. Amidst all the festivities, vacationers were invited to take in the sights, see an Indian performance or two, and perhaps buy one of the local Indians' finely crafted baskets. Through these activities the Field Days offered white tourists the opportunity to encounter "real" Indians whose ethnic authenticity exuded from their physical appearance, embedding itself within those very items tourists came to purchase. However, ever-shifting standards of authenticity were maintained through a rigorous set of observations in the form of competitions and through the policing of borders of visibility. How Indians with ties to Yosemite Valley negotiated these borders to participate in what I term an "economy of authenticity" is the subject of this essay.5
In exploring this economy, however, I do not seek to ultimately "uncover" or "discover" Indian agency at work - it is undeniable that Indians did exercise and have always exercised agency. Rather, by examining the tactical choice made by Indian women and men as they engaged in this ever-changing economy of authenticity, I want to move the discussion of Indian labor beyond the dubious assumptions that lie behind the question of agency and begin to explore what Michel de Certeau caUs the many "ways of operating" that make everyday life ultimately political.6 In his essay "On Agency" Walter Johnson advocates for a "history after 'agency'" that focuses the scholarly eye not upon debates over the laborer's humanity but instead seeks to explore the structures of power that influence the "present-life of the past."7 By translating Johnson's vision for the future of academic debates over slavery to American Indian historiography, this essay moves beyond discussions of whether or not the market stripped Indian laborers of agency (beyond the question, Did Indian laborers have agency?) and instead seeks to articulate what Indian labor within a government-controUed, touristic, and gender/raciaUy normalizing economy looked luce and what power-structured processes shaped or defined the boundaries of the possible. Thus, the chaUenge I face in narrating the story of Hazel Hogan is focusing on her choices without falsely constructing a free space in which they operated. Indeed, Hogan's choice to don a marcel was circumscribed by a broad spectrum of social expectations arising from the unique marketplace of the Field Days. Her unequal relationship to that market points to the fact that the notion of free choice ultimately makes Uttle sense without acknowledging the presence of constraint. In order to realize this reframing, however, we must first reconsider the historiography of Indians and their relationship with the national park system.
Beginning in the 1990s, scholars have scrutinized the history of federal land preservation policies and their effect upon Indian land claims.8 Observing the long disconnect between studies of federal Indian policy and those of federal preservation policy, Robert KeUer and Michael Turek noted, "One can find thousands of books about American Indians, a considerable body of literature about national parks, but almost nothing linking the two." Their American Indians & National Parks attempts to address this sUence by exploring how American conceptions of "wilderness" as "uninhabited" conspired to displace indigenous communities from their homes and livelihoods. By focusing on the antagonistic and contradictory relationship between Indian concerns and environmental policy, KeUer and Turek reveal the tragic ways in which tribal poUtics and NPS policies have influenced each other since the 1930s.9 Though less sweeping in breadth than KeUer and Turek's work, Mark David Spence's Dispossessing the Wilderness considers the same theme by focusing on Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks to argue that their establishment was made possible by Indian removal from an otherwise "pristine" and "uninhabited wilderness."10 Although less focused on the connections between NPS and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Karl Jacoby's Crimes against Nature considers how conservationists used legal measures to restrict access to national park lands for lower-class Americans, including members of Indian tribes, who were once promised access to those very resources.11
This essay seeks to complicate this "dispossession narrative." Far from imagining the national parks as "uninhabited wilderness," events like the Yosemite Indian Field Days suggest that at least some NPS officials and many American tourists imagined these places of "wilderness" as, in fact, the last bastion of an authentic Indianness. As a result, while the Field Days satisfied the park rangers' social reform program and white tourists' sense of modernity and racial superiority, they also created a space for Indians to manipulate white expectation of authenticity emerging from their particular understanding of wilderness. Whether performing in a war-bonneted costume of buckskins or selling baskets from crudely formed teepees of draped tarps, Yosemite Indians participated in the Field Days in order to capitalize on the financial and social opportunities available. However, by policing the borders of visibility, NPS officials attempted to present an idealized and highly gendered myth of Indianness in order to construct a benign image of Indian labor. In other words, as Patricia Albers suggests in her essay "From Legend to Land to Labor," the success of events like the Field Days rested upon the "obfuscation of the very labor conditions" that made such cultural products accessible to tourists. Invariably, many Indians participated in the "mystification of their own labor" to gain much higher prices for their products.12
Finally, if Indians manipulated white expectations to gain higher prices for their products, the same process also (re)produced a racialized and gendered political economy. Following the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act, white middle-class women and Indian women alike found their identities as citizens shaped by their interaction with the marketplace created by the Field Days. By deemphasizing the "masculine" rodeo aspects of the Field Days in place of a "feminine" craft fair, NPS officials sought to redefine the character of the national parks and, by extension, that of the national citizenry. In addition to employing binary categories of citizenship that constructed white women as consumers and Indian women as producers, the Field Days were also essential in redefining the national park as a site of citizen consumerism. To tell this story, however, we must now turn to the origins of the Yosemite Indian Field Days and the establishment of a system of observation to regulate and control the sexual and reproductive health of its participants.
The first Yosemite Indian Field Day was held on August 7, 1916.13 The event featured a number of Indian-produced arts and crafts, including rugs, jewelry, and baby cradles, displayed around Yosemite Falls pavilion before as many as fifteen hundred visitors, the majority of them tourists from San Francisco and Sacramento. According to one newspaper, nearly 150 Yosemite-area Indians "gathered to lend their quaint and picturesque presence" to the scene. Though it appears that Indian art was an important aspect of the day's events, more masculine activities seem to have taken center stage at the early Field Days, as Indians competed against white residents of the valley in various contests and races. By 1918 Roman races and rope tricks seem to have become the main attraction of the Field Days.14
Despite the enthusiasm for these first Field Days, by the early 1920s the parades and potato races proved insufficient to draw crowds to the valley after the waterfalls had dried up in early August. To attract more visitors during the slower late summer season, Chief Ranger Forest S. Townsley, the primary architect of the Field Days, sought to model the Field Days after the Wild West shows popular throughout the early decades of the twentieth century. Originally from Oklahoma, Townsley had likely seen Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, and he believed that prioritizing the event's horseraces and other rodeo features would improve attendance and encourage industrious behavior among the Indians. Although hugely popular throughout the East, Midwest, and even parts of the Southwest, trayeling rodeos featuring Indian performers were rarely seen in California after 1900. Beginning in the 1880s and 1890s, fraternal and sororal societies like the Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West sought to create a whitewashed history that erased California's Spanish and Indian heritage through the construction of monuments to the state's pioneer past and by propagating the myth of a vanishing California Indian. The result was that by the turn of the century public performances and commemorations of California's past rarely, if ever, employed California Indians as actors.15 One exception to this trend was the hiring of fifty "genuine" Indians from around Temescula on the California-Arizona border by Los Angeles boosters. Dressed in "Aztec" costumes, these actors were paid a doUar a day to march in the 1896 La Fiesta de Los Angeles parade.16 Though CaUfornia Indians occasionaUy found employment as actors playing on white expectations of authentic Indianness, the success of the Field Days created a unique opportunity for Indian workers to enter the marketplace as "citizen" producers.17
By employing Yosemite-area Indians as participants in the Field Days, NPS officials sought not only to improve the Indians' financial and cultural condition but also to continue the process of transforming Indian participants into productive citizens of the United States. In 1924 Congress passed the Indian Citizenship Act in an attempt to forward the federal government's assimilation policy; from the point of view of the U.S. government, Indians had to become industrious citizens, and soon. In Yosemite VaUey NPS officials eagerly embraced the new legislation as the raison d'être for the Field Day. Both in 1924 and again in 1929 the Field Days were advertised as providing Indians with an opportunity to participate in the census. "Uncle Sam Takes Aboriginal Census Easily with Dollar Gifts," declared one headline. "When the United States census count is taken in 1930, Yosemite will be just one jump ahead of the census takers," proclaimed another. By casting the Field Days as an event that transformed Indian participants into citizens (productive, industrious, whitened), Lloyd and other park officials imagined the events as part of a Progressive social reform movement that would inculcate the Indian to the rights and duties of citizenship.18
Essential to the project of transforming Indians into citizens was the regulation and control of their reproductive health. In 1916 the Office of Indian Affairs issued a how-to guide for raising the future citizen-Indian. Titled Indian Babies: How to Keep Them Well, the pamphlet was circulated to all superintendents, doctors, nurses, and field matrons working with Indian populations and to as many Indians as possible. The foreword, written by Commissioner Cato Sells, placed the blame for the decline of Indian health and by extension their faUure to become full citizens of the nation upon the Indian mother. "So many Indian baby lives have been lost," Sells claims, "because their mothers did not know how to keep them well."19 The pamphlet goes on to identify the importance of raising healthy Indian babies and properly registering their birth with the state because "such a record may help you to prove some day that it is an American citizen. It will prove how old it is, and establish the right to vote, to marry, to make contracts, to establish claims to inheritance, etc."20 In other words, if you follow the advice offered in this government-issued pamphlet, the Indian baby will one day be a citizen-Indian. NPS officials were determined to advance this project.
An important aspect of the Yosemite Indian Field Days was the incorporation of the Indian Baby Show, which functioned not only to count future citizen-Indians but also to assess and assure their health. Understandings of "healthiness" evolved over time, as the judging became increasingly interventionist. In 1916 the winning "contestants" of the Indian Baby Show were reported as embodying "splendid types of healthy babyhood," which seems to mean that the awards simply went to the chubbiest babies.21 If local judges were to have followed that year's government-issued pamphlet on Indian baby health, however, they would have paid significant attention to the cleanliness of the baby and her mother, the sobriety of the baby's father, and, significanüy, the cradle. According to the Office of Indian Affairs, citizen- Indians ought not to be swaddled in traditional Indian-constructed baby baskets:
Many Indian babies when very young are strapped by their mothers to boards and cradles. This is not good for the baby as it restricts the baby's movements. How would you like to have your arms and legs tied up so you could not move them? It is natural for a baby to want to work its arms and legs, and we must not stop him from doing so.22
Despite the advice of the Office of Indian Affairs, as I will discuss later, it seems that during the Yosemite Indian Field Days the healthiness of Indian babies was always judged with the baby snuggly bound in a cradled board constructed by the mother, suggesting that systems for observing health could also be employed to assure the quality of Indian-produced basketry.
In subsequent Field Days NPS officials sought to enlist the aid of the California State Board of Health in assuring the health of Indian babies. In 1924 Dr. Ellen Stadtmuller of the Bureau of Child Hygiene conducted physical examinations of the valley's residents prior to the Field Days and noted "how valuable it would be if [medical examinations] could be incorporated as part of the Baby Show rather than simply judging children from external appearance, such as dress, with no regard to their true physical condition." The next year Superintendent Lewis responded to Stadtmuller's suggestion by instructing Townsley to incorporate the medical examinations into the judging process. The result was a "well-baby conference for the Indians" as part of the Baby Show in which "a medical examination by a competent baby specialist with individual advice to the parents on maintaining the health of the child" was offered. Thus, the Indian Baby Show offered NPS officials an opportunity to participate in Progressive Era campaigns of racialized health reform.23
The control of babies' health and by extension the sexual and reproductive health of their mothers was a central aspect of the state's role in constructing a healthy, sexually controlled Indian citizenry. Essential to this project was the establishment of a gendered division of labor modeled upon American norms. As Commissioner Cato Sells remarked in an open letter to the superintendents and employees of the Indian Service, "There is among the Indians a marked and tender affection for their children, but too often the wife, the mother, is regarded and treated as the burden bearer." Taking up the "laboring squaw" motif, Sells went on, "I want to see developed and prevalent in every Indian school . . . that modern and truly chivalrous spirit that recognizes and respects the sacredness of womanhood? In order to inculcate these values in the citizen-Indian Sells advocated the role of men in protecting and reinforcing a concept of sacred womanhood as the key to a felicitous private life. "I should like to have every Indian boy leave school with this lofty and just sentiment fused into his character, as the picture in the porcelain, because of the deep and exquisite power it will have to bless his future home with health and happiness."24 For Indians to become citizens of the state, they must conform their private lives to the norms of the racialized body politic.
Beyond controlling the reproductive health of citizen-Indians, NPS officials enforced the power of the state to punish crimes, especially when the victim was an Indian. A letter from Superintendent Lewis to Assistant Commissioner of Indian Affairs E. B. Meriti reveals the seriousness with which NPS officials took acts of violence or robbery of Indian property:
While you were here I believe Chief Ranger Townsley discussed with you the case of one of the Indian women having been robbed of some $50. You will be interested to know that the man who stole the money was apprehended, has been sentenced to six months in jail, and the money has been returned to the Indian woman.25
It appears that NPS officials offered redress to Indians who were victims of crime during the Field Days, something not always assured to Indian people living in the Sierra foothills. Thus, NPS officials inculcated Indian participants in the Field Days to both the duties and the privileges of citizens of the state.
Finally, the NPS officials' expressed intention for holding the Yosemite Indian Field Days suggests the relationship between government systems of observation and general fears over the disappearance of authentic Indians and their products. While historians normally associate the promotion of Indian arts and crafts with federal Indian policy following Roosevelt's appointment of John Collier as commissioner of Indian Affairs in 1933, the rhetoric of NPS officials suggests that at some level they anticipated the policies of the Indian New Deal. The newspaper articles, letters, and notes of NPS officials reveal their concern with what they perceived as the corrosive effects of modernity on Indians' culture. "Reversing the wheel of progress," one article proclaimed, Yosemite Indians were "scorning the use of modern machinery" in an attempt "to revive the basket making industry as inaugurated by their forefathers."26 In fact, the idea that Indian basket making was on the decline and in need of encouragement was central to NPS officials' paternalistic ethos. For example, the Souvenir Program from the 1923 Field Days proclaimed, "The interest centered on the problems of the fast disappearing Indian race, should rank Yosemite's efforts to preserve their customs as one of national importance."27 At least within the minds of park officials, the Field Days were an important aspect of reforming Indian lives and transforming them into citizens of a modern American nation. In this way the government's promotion of indigenous crafts was central to its mission of constructing citizen-Indians.
By 1921 the Yosemite Indian Field Days had become a respectable and well-attended event with the support of cosmopolitan visitors, government officials, and the considerable financial backing of local businesses and concessionaries. With financial revenue coming in from admission tickets, concessionaire advertisements, and the sale of souvenir buttons, the Field Days had grown from a small rodeo to a major annual event. NPS officials had established a system of observation to regulate Indian sexual and reproductive health as a part of transforming them into citizen-Indians while at the same time improving late summer attendance by attracting tourists to the valley in order to encounter an idealized wilderness. However, the Field Days changed dramatically after 1921 as NPS officials sought to "bring the purchase minded public to an event featuring the Indian arts and crafts."28
The transformation of the Field Days from a small rodeo into a major craft fair also brought about a change in the meaning of race and gender within the constructed space of the national park. Through the production, marketing, and selling of Indian goods the Field Days became increasingly a space of female consumerism to the exclusion of male artisans and feats of athleticism from the marketplace. As NPS officials redefined the meaning and form of the Field Days, they also transformed the late summer event from a masculine space that tested the virility of male bodies into a feminized space that controlled and defined women's bodies as the site of production and consumption. Thus, the transformation of the Fields Days from adventure to consumption also constructed racial and gendered category of white women as consumer and Indian women as producer through the medium of the marketplace.
In 1922 NPS officials began directly marketing to middle-class white tourists. In advertisements and publicity copy they sought to draw women consumers into the national parks with the promise of encountering desirable and exotic Indian products in a manageable, consumable, and feminized locale. "Ladies," the Stockton Record announced, "will be interested in the Indian basket and beadwork exhibition, new this year, which will bring out the finest specimens of these crafts to be found in California."29 The advertisement notwithstanding, basketry and beadwork remained inconspicuous in the 1922 schedule, sandwiched between the "Horse Race" and the "Ranger's Pack Animal Race." Indeed, it appears that in 1922 displays of beadwork and basketry shared the same thirty-minute slot with "Arrow Heads, Bows and Arrows, and Indian Wares."30 This lack of gendered division suggests that in 1922 the Field Days had not yet fully embraced the transition from a masculine rodeo toward a more feminized craft fair. The inclusion of arrowheads and bows and arrows, presumably the work of men, alongside basketry and beadwork represents a configuration of Indian product/labor that would not be seen again during the Field Days.
The reintroduction of Indian feminine artwork to the otherwise masculine Field Days reveals NPS officials' attempts to appeal to white expectations of and desires for an innocuous and consumable "Indian" experience. For example, in the official "Souvenir Program" from 1922 park officials and white tourists alike marveled at their own modernity while at the same time bemoaning the demise of CaUfornia's Indian people: "Unable to compete with the white man's labor saving devices, their industries have passed into discard. Even basket making has degenerated until today it bids fair to become the redman's lost art." Indian crafts, particularly baskets, thus became a signifier for white tourists' desires to encounter an exoticized and vanishing Indian past. The program informed its reader that Indians "chose to weave their fantastical tales and oft repeated traditions into the humble wiUow baskets." Whüe the incredible labor necessary to produce a basket is discussed, it is only to suggest that by purchasing a basket one might possess or gain access to the lived reality of the Indian artist oneself. According to the program, the weaver's dafly experiences were "unconsciously" recorded within the basket, thereby imbuing each basket with a "distinctive" Indian "personality."31 White tourists sought Indian art as a proxy for consuming Indian exoticism itself.
The gendered characteristic of this exotic consumption is also apparent in promotional literature for the Yosemite Indian Field Days. NonIndian women were the target authence for much of the Field Day's advertisements. A fidl-page advertisement in the popular Sunday rotogravure pictorial section of the San Francisco Chronicle presents a coUage of photos from previous Field Days highlighting the romanticism and passivity of the Yosemite artisans (fig. 1). "BUY A BASKET LADY? Little Butterfly proffers her handiwork to Miss Winifred Pendergast" reads one of the captions below a photo of a smiling "Little Butterfly" and a deUghted "Pendergast." Besides highlighting the role of Indian women as producers of baskets for non-Indian women consumers, the rotogravure advertisement also establishes the childish and passive nature of Yosemite Indians with another photo, whose caption reads: "HEADED FOR THE WARPATH? Little Chief Tomahawk glares balefuUy from his bark tepee doorway." Showing a young Yosemite Indian dressed in furs with a feathered headband, half hiding behind his "bark tepee doorway," the image is a study in contradictions. Recast as a "good Indian," the Yosemite Indian's childish nature precludes him from the manly act of violence and resistance. Indeed, throughout the advertisement Indian women are portrayed as industrious and useful, while Indian men are presented as primitive and slothful. "WOMEN MUST WORK," announced one caption: "The Indian brave performs a ceremonial dance while the two squaws display their completed baskets." Thus, within the public discourse of the Yosemite Indian Field Days' advertisements the industrious "squaw" was constructed as the source of Indian salvation and the brave, its downfall.32
The Yosemite Indian Field Days are also representative of the four decades of development in America's culture of mass consumption. During the last decade of the nineteenth and the first three decades of the twentieth centuries middle-class white women increasingly valued exotic consumer goods as essential components of a cosmopolitan domestic space. Purchasing and displaying "foreign" articles fueled homemakers' desire for exotic merchandise and experiences. Similar to products identified as "Oriental" in the middle-class imagination, Indian-produced objects served a similar, though not identical, function. So-called Indian corners were a particularly popular variant of the cosmopolitan consumer's interest in exotic décor. Following the publication of Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona (1888), western-themed rooms featuring Indian rugs, baskets, and beadwork increased in appeal. The twentieth century brought an end to white middle-class fears of the savage Indian and ushered in a romanticized notion of the vanishing and consumable Indian.33
But the popularity of baskets alone cannot account for the gendered shift in the Field Days from "masculine" rodeo to "feminine" crafts fair in 1922. The increased mobility particularly of car-rich, urban Californians throughout the 1910s and 1920s made weekend trips to national parks and other recreational spaces ever more possible. For example, in 1922 more than sixty thousand tourists had visited Yosemite Valley by mid- July, a tremendous number of people, considering the population of Sacramento at the time was just over ninety thousand. The following year saw an unprecedented 25 percent growth in visitor attendance. By 1928 five out of six visitors to Yosemite Valley arrived by car, the majority of them from San Francisco or Sacramento, a fact that is particularly apparent in the 1926 Indian Field Days, which were designed to correspond with the opening of the All- Weather Road into the valley.34 Due to the growing number of cars on improved roads, the 1920s saw a resurgence of popularity in Indian baskets as increased mobility brought increasing numbers of women consumers into direct contact with "authentic" Indian wares.35
The intersections of mobility, white tourism, and Indian authenticity are revealed in newspaper articles from the period. "Whoopee! Bring on the Paint; Hey, Hey!" proclaimed one advertisement for the 1929 Field Days. Featuring "Miss Mildred Cuthbertson" atop her new car, "named after Chief Pontiac," the photo shows Cuthbertson applying her makeup with the aid of a hand mirror. The caption reads: "True to form, she's putting on the 'war-paint.'" Juxtaposed beside the car is an umucha, the traditional Miwok dwelling. The contrasting of an umucha (primitive, static, Indian) with a car (modern, mobile, non-Indian) as well as makeup (feminine, decorative, sexual) with war paint (masculine, threatening, coarse) suggests the exoticizing and carnivalesque experiences promised by the Field Days. By the mid-i920s improved roads and cheap cars had transformed Yosemite VaUey from a wflderness "fortress" to a weekend drive, from a masculine wflderness to a feminine "nature" pageant.36
Perhaps for reasons of mobility, the introduction of an Indian crafts exhibition in the 1922 Field Days was a resounding success, and the following year NPS officials decided to embrace fuUy the feminization of the Field Days by beginning to publicize it as a crafts fair. In 1923 they were described as a "Basket and Bead Festival" designed to "encourage the rapidly dying art of basket weaving and bead work which have made the California Indian famous." Whereas before, the material products of Indian labor were mentioned as an afterthought, if at all, the success of the 1922 Field Days catapulted Indian artwork to the center of things. Moreover, in 1923 NPS officials hosted for the first time an auction of judged and authenticated Indian baskets, with all proceeds promised to benefit the artisans. In this way NPS officials sought to transform the Field Days from a masculine rodeo with horse races and rope tricks into a feminine pageant of basket contests and baby shows.37
Two articles that appeared in the San Francisco and Stockton newspapers demonstrate the newly found importance of Indian artwork in the promotion of the Field Days after 1922. Both articles featured large photos of white women wearing Indian headdresses and perusing basket displays. "Indian treasures," the caption of one reads. "Miss Townsley is holding the finest basket ever woven by a California Indian," an assertion calculated to appeal to cosmopolitan consumers' imaginations and desires (fig. 2). The article's text further appeals to the "purchase minded" tourists by asserting that such a fine basket would surely "find its way to a museum eventually," for "it is almost circular in shape, closely woven of fern roots and decorated in a design of humming birds, butterflies, primroses and blazing suns. . . . there is not a bulge to spoil the symmetry of the basket or a false stitch to mar the decoration."38 The opportunity to purchase an exotic Indian craft and observe actual Indians, noble and vanishing savages though they might be, combined to transform the Yosemite Indian Field Days from a rodeo to a crafts fair and in the process transformed it from a event that tested male virulence into an opportunity to construct a racialized and gendered conception of white women as consumers and Indian women as producers.
Between 1923 and 1926 the Yosemite Indian Field Days were held annually, increasing in size and popularity as crafts surpassed athletics in importance. An expanded publicity campaign and a spate of local and national politicians and international celebrities further contributed to the popularity of the Field Days. Though a few lesser-known celebrities and politicians attended the Field Days prior to the reintroduction of Indian artwork, most notable among them being ex-Secretary of the Treasury William Gibbs McAdoo in 1919, it was the chance to participate in the now very cosmopolitan Field Days and buy Indian crafts that drew many. For example, in 1923 French war hero Gen. Henri Joseph Gouraud visited Yosemite during his whirlwind tour of California. Though he went to see the "cowgirls" and have his picture taken with the rangers, he left with a few baskets as well.39 Likewise, California governor Friend Richardson visited the Field Days in 1926 and posed for pictures with weavers Lucy Telles, Clara Tom, Emma Williams, and Lena Brown.40 The Field Days had become a major stop for international socialites, politicians, and cosmopolitan tourists alike who sought to purchase the products of Indian women or experience the exotic nature of the Field Days.
By the mid-1920s the Field Days were firmly established as an event for urbanites seeking to encounter an "authentic" Indian. NPS officials marketed the event as a shopping experience and assured cosmopolitan tourists that the baskets and beadwork they purchased were genuine. Carried by cheap cars on improved roads, these visitors poured into Yosemite by the tens of thousands to see the views and purchase a piece of genuine Indian "nature." In the process NPS officials transformed the Field Days from a masculine event that tested male virility into a feminine event that emphasized consumerism and production. Ultimately, the Yosemite Indian Field Days were as much a part of the cosmopolitan shopping experience and its racial and gendered dimensions as they were a product of Progressive Era social reform politics.
While the Indian Field Days provided an opportunity for NPS officials to bask in the glory of progressive social reforms and for white tourists to purchase exotic merchandise, they also offered an opportunity for Indians to exploit a new economy of authenticity. Within the valley Indians had long found work as farm wage laborers or in the seasonal tourist industry. During the summer months Yosemite Indians were often employed to procure food for valley guests. For example, the Wawona Hotel employed a local Indian named Bullock who routinely fished the South Fork of the Merced and Big Creek until he was murdered while on the job in 1890.41 Similarly, for the summer of 1909 J. B. Cook, a local concessionaire, employed Billie Lancey, Charlie Hart, and Dan Howard to "fish during the season for the Sentinel Hotel and Camp Yosemite."42 Besides fishing, Indian men also built trails, operated pack trains, and bailed hay, and one even served as Yosemite Valley's first postman. During the 1870s and 1880s Tom Hutchings carried mail and other supplies over the Yosemite trail for $10 a trip plus room and board.43 Indian women also found gainful employment in the valley, working for local residents and hotels as laundresses, dressmakers, and maids. Indeed, Indian labor was so integral to the valley's economy that one visitor observed, "Only Indian labor is attainable" in Yosemite.44 But while these jobs provided local Indians with access to cash, the Field Days briefly altered the valley's labor system by introducing an economy of authenticity.
Primarily, the Field Days provided local Indians with opportunities to use non-Indian expectations to engage in new forms of wage labor. As early as 1919 Indians who participated in the weekend's activities were paid as much as $2.50 a day - the equivalence of a day's work as an agricultural laborer.45 Women and their children willing to participate in the Indian Baby Show could earn an additional $2 or $3 a day.46 Though poor wages, the significance of this income was remembered by participants years later. In 1997 Lawrence Beale remembered the money he earned with a mixture of incredulity and nostagia: "We'd have big celebration for a week and they give us Indians a dollar, each one, to be there you know. The rangers give us a dollar each. Even kids . . . get a dollar. It's for buying ice cream and stuff."47
But while a few dollars a day was good, for Indians willing to manipulate tourist expectations of what constituted Indian authenticity, their earning possibilities could soar tremendously. For example, the 1921 Field Days commenced with an Indian parade and costume pageant for which the Indian boy and girl whose costumes were judged sufficiently authentic would receive $5 apiece. Within four years the opportunity to cash in by appealing to non-Indian expectations of authenticity had increased to $25 apiece for those participating in the parade.48 By manipulating non-Indian expectations, Yosemite Indians participated in an economy of authenticity to earn more money than they might otherwise expect from a day's labor.
Although masculine physical activities were less prominent in publicity copy, Indian participants could still profit from participating in rodeo, athletic, and footrace competitions for a chance to receive significant cash prizes. For example, in 1924 alone, over $550 in prize money was awarded to Indians participating in the Field Days events. Activities varied between athletic events like the Mounted Potato Race, Roman Race, and Relay Race to more whimsical contests such as Musical Chairs, Fancy Roping, and Tug-of-War. By 1929 a total of $1,500 in prizes was advertised for both Indian and non-Indian participants in all categories of competition.49
However, whüe highly lucrative for the Indian athletes, physical competitions were only permitted when they did not detract from the overall consumerism of the event and so long as NPS officials could police the boundaries of acceptable visibUity. Conflicts often arose when Indians modified Field Days activities and conducted games of their own free from the surveillance of NPS officials. For example, on August 1, 1926, Joe Rube, Bridgeport Tom, Johnie Brown, and several other Yosemite Indians were found participating in an unofficial tug-of-war match that rangers Wagner, Skelton, and Nelson broke up. According to a handwritten letter from the Indians, they "were playing Tugo-war. [T]he first game no one interfered, the second game Mr. Mather rushed in, and said no gambling in Yosemite National Park and ordered the Indians to leave this minute."50 The Yosemite Indians, it appears, saw equal legitimacy in both their own tug-of-war and the athletic events they performed on the meadow for tourists. "The same thing went on Indian Field Day with the approval of all present, including high Officials."51 Conflict arose when Indian reality and NPS officials' expectations collided.
The Indian Baby Show was also a significant and gendered avenue for Indian women to participate in the economy of authenticity. As early as 1916 five Indian women and their babies participated, demonstrating "splendid types of healthy babyhood," for which each mother received several doUars.52 Throughout the early 1920s the participation of Indian babies in the Field Days was encouraged to help facilitate health inspections, and as a result monetary compensation was increased from $15 for the first-place baby and $10 for the second-place to $25 and $15, respectively. As the baby show became increasingly lucrative, Indian participation understandably grew as well. In 1924 the Sacramento Bee reported, "There are more entries for this year's Indian baby show than for several seasons past." The following year compensation increased again as "each fifll-blooded Indian papoose in basket entered in the Indian baby show was promised $2.00," with a top prize of $50.53
This opportunity for Indians seems to have clashed with the prevailing notions of how best to raise Indian babies. As discussed earlier, Office of Indian Affairs educational pamphlets discouraged the use of Indianproduced cradles for swaddling babies. Yet the display of Indian baby bodies within Indian-produced baskets was a necessary component of the Field Days judging process. One explanation might be that NPS officials were unaware of the Office of Indian Affair's advice. However, it is more likely that what was being judged during the Indian Baby Show was not necessarily the Indian baby but the basket itself. As Elma Blaver remembered in a 1997 interview, basket weavers like Elma Tom and Tina Charlie "would make all these fancy baby baskets. So she would enter her little babies in these baskets and I think she won quite a few with this contest. Baby contest I guess you'd call it. It was really a basket contest. But they were so elaborately done."54 Thus, at least for some Indian basket weavers, the Indian Baby Shows were an opportunity to earn additional money and prestige for the products of their labor through engagement with an economy of authenticity.
As with tourist-based wage labor, Yosemite-area Indians were already acquainted with participating in skill-based competitions as a means of earning cash or selling the products of their labor. Beginning as early as 1885, the small eastern Sierra community of Bishop held an annual Harvest Day Festival in which prizes were awarded to Indians for their skill in the "domestic science and art" such as "best hemmed handkerchief" or "best glass of jelly" by an Indian woman.55 Along with offering moderate prizes for domestic skills, the organizers of the Harvest Day Festival also offered Indian women wages for participating in a baby show, though exact amounts are not known.56 However, it is known that some of the most prominent weavers at the Field Days, including Lucy Telles, Leanna Tom, and Nellie Charlie, participated in the Harvest Day events as well.57 Both tourism and baby shows appear to have been important opportunities for Yosemite-area Indians to enter the economy of authenticity.
While Yosemite Indians could and did earn impressive amounts of money by participating in parades, costume contests, and baby shows, the basket and beadwork competitions constituted the greatest opportunity for profiting from their labor within the Field Days' economy of authenticity. Indeed, individual weavers competing for considerable cash awards in the categories of fine basketry and beadwork could often earn the equivalent of several months' agricultural labor wages in a single day. For example, in 1924 Alice James won both first place in the best display of baskets ($50) and fourth place in best single basket ($15), grossing $65.58 Likewise, Lucy Telles often won first-place prizes for the best single basket, earning $50 each time in prize money.59 The number and variety of prizes also meant that many women who entered baskets in the competition might receive some form of compensation. From 1925 to 1929 between $270 and $365 worth of cash prizes, besides moccasins and other lesser prizes, were offered for the basket and beadwork competitions.60 Without a doubt, the opportunity to participate in this economy of authenticity must have constituted a powerful draw on Indian women to travel to and participate in the Field Days.
Beyond the possibility of winning prize money for individual baskets, beadwork, or displays, after the judging was over Indian women could turn around and sell their baskets to tourists for prices far higher than those they could otherwise get from wholesalers or tourists on reservations. While prices for most commodities vary over time and place, the going price for Indian baskets reveals an astounding degree of consistency. For example, in 1889 Charles Frederick Holder reported that Indian baskets for sale in the Southern California village of Pachanga could be bought for between $2 and $4. Likewise, in her study of the Southern Paiutes' relations with non-Indian communities, Martha Knack asserted that during the 1930s and 1940s anthropologists and collectors alike bought Paiute baskets for $2 to $3 on average. Indeed, during the height of the Indian basket craze, between 1900 and 1910, the most weavers could expect to receive appears to have been around $5 or $6, though again $2 to $3 seems far more typical.61 In contrast, both Lucy Telles's firs1t-place basket and Leanna Tom's fifth-place basket sold for $100 apiece in 1925.62 Compared with the average going price for Indian baskets on reservations or in the barrios around the missions, these prices were astronomical. Although it is probably impossible to determine the average price premium consumers paid for baskets and beadwork during the Field Days, weavers likely realized significantly higher profits than they might otherwise expect.63
But if baskets were available for lower prices from wholesalers, why were tourists willing to pay significantly higher prices when buying directly from the artisans and within the context of the Field Days? A central aspect of the post-1922 Field Days was to visually encode and systematically rank the authenticity of the Indian artwork cosmopolitan consumers came to buy. The evolution of basket judging reveals not only the increasing significance consumers placed on the activity but also the increasing need for visibility and authenticity. While in the 1922 Field Days basket judging received a scant thirty minutes and was wedged between two sets of races, by 1925 basket and beadwork judging consumed the better half of a day.64 Moreover, in 1925 and 1926 the judging occurred upon a stage decorated with Plains-style teepees, and artisans were encouraged to appear in bead-embellished buckskins (fig. 3). For their part, the judges often indulged their own desire to "play Indian" by wearing feathered headdresses and faux warpaint (fig. 4). Thus, by creating a backdrop that appealed to non-Indian expectations of Indianness and physically inspecting, verifying, and ranking the authenticity and quality of the Indian products, the judging process both excited tourists' imaginations while alleviating their anxieties over the authenticity of their purchases.
Yosemite-area Indians participated in the Field Days for reasons beyond simple economic gain. The Indian Field Days were also a continuation of traditional "Big Time," or kote, celebrations. Paiutes from the east side of the Sierra, Miwoks from the foothills, and Ahwahneechees from the valley had a long history of intermarriage and seasonal gatherings in the valley. The gathering of extended kin from both near and distant villages was seamlessly integrated into the Field Days. NPS officials' own records reveal the incredible mobility of Indian people in the region. During the winter only a few families remained in the valley, only as many as the valley's meager cold-season economy could sustain. But as warmer weather opened up roads and permitted tourists again to visit the valley, the Indian population soared. Those who left the valley worked as agricultural laborers in the Owens and San Joaquin valleys, but they always returned to Yosemite, their home, in the summer.65 While kinship played an important role in defining how Indians experienced the Field Days, Indian identity and non-Indian expectations also influenced their place in the events.
The public judging of Indian baskets was just one part of the system of surveillance NPS officials employed to police the boundaries of visibility and thereby obscure the true living conditions of these idealized Indian workers. For example, Indians clashed with NPS officials over the visibility of Indian automobiles and umuchas. In 1925 the visibility of the Indian Village with its traditionally built structures had, from the perspective of NPS officials, become "an eyesore."66 It was the visibility of California Indians living in such "inauthentic" ways that led Don Tresidder, president of Yosemite Park and Curry Company, to propose the NPS buy a proper "Indian wigwam from the Indians in Oregon" to "serve as a sample for the Indians here."67 In this way the Yosemite Indians could live in more stereotypical structures and thereby participate in the valley's economy of authenticity in a more expected manner. Although nothing apparently came of these plans, if NPS officials could not present a properly stereotypical image of Yosemite Indians for tourists, they would at least obscure their view. Following the 1929 Field Days, NPS officials recommended the "thickening of undergrowth" around the Indian village to "segregate [it] from [the] public as desired." Ultimately, however, it was decided best to simply demolish the village and construct a new one.68
Like Indian-buflt structures, the visibility of Indian-owned automobfles was also tightly controlled by NPS officials. During the 1929 Field Days Indian-owned cars were discreetly parked in a back lot, thoroughly hidden from visitors to the park.69 After the Field Days NPS officials persistenily bemoaned Indians' spending habits as lacking foresight. "Their present ambitions keep them employed just sufficiently to subsist - and to support one or more second-hand automobiles. They seem to crave the luxuries but make no provision for [their] security."70 Ultimately, for NPS officials, policing the boundaries between the public perception and the private reality of Indian life in Yosemite was of the utmost importance.
The dual concerns of creating and controlling this economy of authenticity came to embody the opportunities available to Yosemite Indians like Hazel Hogan and others. By capitalizing upon white expectations of Indian authenticity, many Yosemite Indians reaped considerable financial gain. However, as NPS officials rigorously policed the boundaries of visibility and shifted their expectations of what constituted authenticity, many Indians found it increasingly difficult to participate in the Field Days' unique marketplace. The 1929 Field Days was the last such event to be held in Yosemite Valley. Although the following year NPS officials discussed hosting another Field Days, they lacked the crucial support of the valley's Indian residents, who saw their hold on the valley increasingly threatened by NPS policy.
In April 1930 the nongovernmental advisory group Yosemite Board Expert Advisers concluded that to that point the objective of the Field Days as "something associated with the Indians of the Valley" was "quite absurd." Despite the opportunities afforded to the Indians who participated, the board concluded that the Field Days seemed to be "essentially a white man's race-meet or rodeo, in which some part is taken by Indians to whose Yosemite forebears such things were wholly unknown."71 Expectations of authenticity had once again shifted - this time to the exclusion of Indians altogether from the park.
The Yosemite Indian Field Days were a complex moment in the history of American Indians and their relationship with the National Park Service. NPS officials imagined the Field Days as an opportunity to increase late-summer tourism while simultaneously reforming the park's indigenous populations. If the Field Days created a site for NPS officials to participate in social reform projects designed to construct the Indian as citizen, they also offered white tourists the opportunity to encounter an authentic, exotic, and benign Indian. By transforming the national park from a "masculine" space within which white citizens tested their virility into a "feminine" space where imperial citizen-consumers could perform their duty by purchasing the products of their colonial subjects, the Field Days (re)produced a highly racialized and gendered marketplace. But while the political economy of the Field Days reproduced broad cultural expectations of Indian authenticity and enforced racial and gender categories, it also created a space for Indians to participate, in unexpected ways, in an economy of authenticity in which they earned material profit by manipulating the expectations of non-Indian consumers.
Yet, in exploring the contradictory nature of this economy of authenticity, my ultimate concern has been to propel our discussion of Indian labor beyond the troubling assumptions that originally allowed us to question their ability to make choices and exercise power. By examining the origins and contours of this economy of authenticity and the ever-shifting expectations that structured it, I have sought to explore how participants in the Field Days made a series of tactical choices in order to recognize, navigate, and manipulate the tools of their own domination. Ultimately, stories like Hazel Hogan's participation in the Field Days' economy of authenticity are essential narratives in the history of Indian labor.
I would like to thank Jean O'Brien, David Chang, Kevin Murphy, Tracy Deutsch, Jean Langford, and all the members of the University of Minnesota's American Indian Studies Workshop and Graduate Student Workshop in Modern History and the Comparative Women's History Workshop for their generative comments. I am also indebted to Linda Eade at the Yosemite Research Library and Paul Rogers at the Yosemite National Park Archives for their dedication and invaluable assistance. Finally, special thanks to my comrades Robert Gilmer, Seth Epstein, and Kate Williams.
1. Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999).
2. "Yosemite Opens Colorful Indian Field Fete Today," San Francisco Chronicle, September 6, 1929, 27. For a thorough discussion of how Indians have used authenticity as a device for manipulating mainstream views and subverting colonial institutions see Paige Raibmon, Authentic Indians: Episodes of Encounter from the Late-Nineteenth-Century Northwest Coast (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005).
3. "Marcelled Miss Jolts Park Chief," Merced Sun Star, September 4, 1929.
4. James V. Lloyd to Craig Bates, November 23, 1978, Box 970.33 1-i "Yosemite - Indians" #46, Yosemite National Park Research Library (hereafter YNPRL). Also see H. H. Hoss to Standard Oil Company, August 9, 1929, Box 6, Folder 291, Craig Bates Collection, Yosemite National Park Archives (hereafter CBC).
5. My argument for an "economy of authenticity" is indebted to two works that have greatly influenced my thought: Philip Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004) and Raibmon's Authentic Indians. Specifically, Deloria's notion of expectations speaks directly to the existence of an economy of authenticity. He writes, "Broad cultural expectations are both the products and the tools of domination.... they are an inheritance that haunts each and every one of us. . . . Expectations and anomalies are mutually constitutive - they make each other." Thus, this essay seeks to "put the making of non-Indian expectations into a dialogue with the lived experiences of certain Native people, those whose actions were, at that very moment, being defined as unexpected" (Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places, 4, 5).
6. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), xix.
7. Walter Johnson, "On Agency," Journal of Social History 37, no. 1 (2003): 119.
8. For example, see Patrick C. West, Resident Peoples and National Parks: Social Dilemmas and Strategies in International Conservation, ed. Steven R. Brechin (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1991). For a specific discussion of Yosemite see Rebecca Solnit, Savage Dreams: A Journey into the Landscape Wars of the American West (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000). For Alaskan Natives and their struggle with NPS see Theodore Catton, inhabited Wilderness: Indians, Eskimos, and National Parks in Alaska (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1997).
9. Robert H. Keller and Michael F. Turek, American Indians & National Parks (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1999), xii.
10. Mark David Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
11. Karl Iacoby, Crimes against Nature: Squatters, Poachers, Thieves, and the Hidden History of American Conservation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).
12. Patricia Albers, "From Legend to Land to Labor: Changing Perspectives on Native American Work," in Native Americans and Wage Labor, ed. Alice Littlefield and Martha C. Knack (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1996), 249.
13. The literature concerning the Yosemite Indian Field Days is rather sparse. Perhaps the most sustained discussion of the fairs is Craig D. Bates and Martha J. Lee, Tradition and Innovation: A Basket History of the Indians of the YosemiteMono Lake Area (Yosemite Association, 1991). Mark David Spence contains a brief discussion Dispossessing the Wilderness, 116-20), as does Stella Mancillas, "When the Rocks Came Down: A History of the Indians of Yosemite Valley, 1916-1953," master's thesis, California State University, Sacramento, 2000.
14. Lloyd to Bates; "Yosemite Turned into Happy Hunting Ground," Merced Evening Sun, August 9, 1916; lohn W. Bingaman, The Ahwahneechees: A Story of the Yosemite Indians (Lodi, CA: End-Kian Publishing Company, 1966), 17.
15. L. G. Moses, Wild West Shows and the Images of American Indians, 1883-1933 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1999), 223-51; also see David Glassberg, Sense of History: The Place of the Past in American Life (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2001), 175-83.
16. William Deverell, Whitewashed Adobe: The Rise of Los Angeles and the Remaking of Its Mexican Past (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005), 49-90, 67.
17. For further discussion of Indian actors and expectations see Deloria, Indians in Unexpected Places, 52-108.
18. James Lloyd, "Yosemite Valley Indians Reviving Basket Weaving," Oakland Tribune, July 20, 1924; "Indian Field Days Nearing," San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 1929; also see Lucy Maddox, Citizen Indians: Native American Intellectuals, Race, and Reform (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006).
19. U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Indian Babies: How to Keep Them Well (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1916), 3, emphasis in the original.
20. U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Indian Babies, 5.
21. "Yosemite Turned into Happy Hunting Ground."
22. U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Indian Babies, 15.
23. Stadtmuller to Lewis, June 6, 1925, Lewis to Stadtmuller, June 13, 1925, and Lewis to Townsley, July 22, 1925, all in Box 970.33 1-5 "Yosemite - Indians," YNPRL. For Progressive Era health reform see Amy L. Fairchild, Science at the Borders: Immigrant Medical Inspection and the Shaping of the Modern Industrial Labor Force (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003); Ruth Clifford Engs, The Progressive Era's Health Reform Movement: A Historical Dictionary (Westport: Praeger, 2003).
24. U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Indian Babies, 29.
25. Lewis to Meriti, August 5, 1924, Box 970.33 I-5 "Yosemite - -Indians," YNPRL.
26. "Indians Are Weavers Now," San Francisco Chronicle, August 11, 1929, 10A.
27. Anonymous, "Souvenir Program of Yosemite's Annual Indian Field Days," August 4 and 5, 1922, Box 970.33 I-2 "Yosemite - Indians" #36, 12, YNPRL.
28. Lloyd to Bates.
29. "Indian Field Day Program in Yosemite," Stockton Record, probably July 1922, Box 6, Folder 284, CBC.
30. Indian Field Days poster, 1922, Box 6, Folder 284, CBC.
31. Anonymous, "Souvenir Program," 12.
32. "Yosemite Indian Fete," San Francisco Chronicle, September 1, 1929, 4. For more on the construction of gender in discourses on Indians see Patricia Albers and Beatrice Medicine, eds., The Hidden Half: Studies of Plains Indian Women (Washington, DC: University Press of America, 1983).
33. Kristin Hoganson, "Cosmopolitan Domesticity: Importing the American Dream, 1865-1920," American Historical Review 107 (February 2002): 55-83; Iudith K. Polanich, "Ramona's Baskets: Romance and Reality," American Indian Culture and Research Journal 21 (1997): 145-62; John M. Gogol, "The Golden Decade of Collecting Indian Basketry," American Indian Basketry and Other Native Arts 5 (1985): 12-29. For a thorough examination of the transformation of Indians into consumable objects by whites around the turn of the century see Raibmon, Authentic Indians, esp. chaps. 2, 5, and 6.
34. For Yosemite attendance see "Yosemite Travel Exceeds Last Year," San Francisco Chronicle, July 29, 1923; "Valley Roads in Good Shape," San Francisco Chronicle, September 8, 1929; for the All-Weather Road see "Program for Indian Field Days Announced," Fresno Republican, July 27, 1926, Box 6, Folder 289a, CBC; for the population of Sacramento see 1920 U.S. Census, http://, accessed March 26, 2007; also see Richard Quin, "Driving through Paradise," Lying Lightly on the Land (National Park Service, museum exhibit, 1998), digital copy, http://www
35. This speaks in part to the growing literature on tourism as a form of colonial encounter. For example, see Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Destination Culture: Tourism, Museums, and Heritage (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998); Scott Magelssen, "Remapping American-ness," National Identities 4 (2002): 161-78.
36. "Whoopee! Bring on the Paint; Hey, Hey!" San Francisco Chronicle, July 7, 1929, A3.
37. "Mono Lake Indians to Hold Basket and Bead Festival," San Francisco Chronicle, July 29, 1923.
38. "Yosemite Prepares for Indians Field Days with Revival of Handicrafts of the Red Man," Stockton Record, July 28, 1923; also see "Mono Lake Indians to Hold Basket and Bead Festival."
39. "Cowgirl Pleases General Gouraud," San Francisco Chronicle, July 28, 1923.
40. "Governor Friend Richardson, Indian Field Days, 1926," Box 6, Folder 289A, CBC.
41. "In the Superior Court of the County of Mariposa, State of California, Transcript of Testimony in an Indian Trail," Box 970.33 I-i "Yosemite - Indians" #26, YNPRL.
42. J. B. Cook to W. W. Forsyth, May 7, 1909, Box 970.33 I-4 "Yosemite - Indians," YNPRL.
43. J. M. Hutchings and Peter Browning, eds., In the Heart of the Sierras: Yo Semite Valley and the Big Tree Groves (Lafayette, CA: Great West Books, 1990), 336-40; William Fredric Bade, The Life and Letters of John Muir (Cambridge, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1924), 314-16; Bates and Lee, Tradition and Innovation, 34.
44. Bates and Lee, Tradition and Innovation, 34; Albert D. Richardson, Beyond the Mississippi (Hartford, CT: American Publishing, 1867), 423, quoted in Bates and Lee, Tradition and Innovation, 33.
45. William Bauer, "Working for Identity: Race, Ethnicity, and the Market Economy in Northern California, 1875-1936," in Native Pathways: American Indian Culture and Economic Development in the Twentieth Century (Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2004), 241.
46. Advance announcement and prize list, Indian Field Days, 1925, Box 6, Folder 288, CBC.
47. Brian Biddy, "A Native American Oral History of the Yosemite Region Interview with Fred Beale and Lawrence Beale, December 4 & 5, 1996 and January 21 & 23 1997 at El Monte, CA," 128. Typed transcript at YNPRL.
48. Indian Field Days poster, 1921, Box 6, Folder 283, CBC; advance announcement and prize list, 1925.
49. Official program and prize list, Yosemite Annual Indian Field Days, 1924, Box 6, Folder 287, CBC; Indian Field Days poster, 1929.
50. Yosemite Indians to Chief Townsley [handwritten letter], August 1926, Box 970.33 1-5 883-07.3 "Indian - General," YNPRL.
51. Yosemite Indians to Chief Townsley, also see J. H. Wegner to Townsley, August 3, 1926, Skelton to Townsley, August 7, 1926, and Nelson to Townsley, August 4, 1926, all in Box 970.33 1-5 883-07.3 "Indian - General," YNPRL.
52. "Yosemite Turned into Happy Hunting Ground," Merced Evening Sun, August 9, 1916.
53. Advance announcement and prize list, 1925. In 1924 the Sacramento Bee reported, "The past year's crop of papooses has been unusually heavy, it is said, and there are more entries for this year's Indian baby show than for several seasons past." "Indian Field Day to Attract Many," Sacramento Bee, July 30, 1924.
54. Brian Biddy, "A Native American Oral History of the Yosemite Region Interview with Elma (Hess) Blaver and Harry Blaver, November 8, 1995 and August 8, 1997 at Lee Vining, CA," 38. Typed transcript at YNPRL.
55. "Harvest Festival Premium List, 1916," reproduced as figure 3.42 in Sharon Dean et al., Weaving a Legacy: Indian Baskets and the People of Owens Valley, California (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005), 57.
56. Dean et al., Weaving a Legacy, 58.
57. Dean et al., Weaving a Legacy, 65; Bates and Lee, Tradition and Innovations, 88-89.
58. Official program and prize list, 1924.
59. See prize lists for 1924, 1925, 1926, Box 6, Folder 287, CBC.
60. I derived these numbers from the prize lists from each year.
61. Charles Frederick Holder, All about Pasadena and Its Vicinity: Its Climate, Missions, Trails and Canyons, Fruits, Flowers and Game (Boston: Lee and Shepard Publishers, 1889), 116; Martha C. Knack, Boundaries Between: The Southern Paiutes, 1775-1995 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 230; Gogol, "The Golden Decade."
62. Lewis to Mathers, August 5, 1925, Box 970.33 I-5 "Indian - General," YNPRL.
63. What is less clear is how this newfound earning power reconfigured gender roles within Yosemite Indian communities. While the majority of Progressive Era Indian literature focuses on the influence of the federal government and boarding schools, in many ways the Yosemite Indian Field Days represent a different form of colonial enterprise that might have reshaped labor and gender roles but in a seemingly less coercive fashion.
64. Indian Field Days poster, 1921; advance announcement and prize list, 1925.
65. For information on Miwok Big Times and Little Times see lames Gary Maniery, Six Mile and Murphys Rancherias: A Study of Two Central Sierra Miwok Village Sites (San Diego: San Diego Museum of Man, 1987), 6-14. Evidence for intermarriage between the Miwoks, Paiutes, and Ahwahneechees is well documented; see Lowell lohn Bean and Sylvia Brakke Vane, "Petition to the government of the United States from the American Indian Council of Mariposa County for acknowledgement as the Yosemite Indian Tribe," Cultural Systems Research, Menlo Park, CA, 1984; "The 4th in Yosemite," Mariposa Gazette, July 9, 1910; "'Bucks' to Match Strength with Skill of Squaws in Yosemite Indians' Big Day," Palo Alto Times, July 15, 1929. For Indian labor see W. B. Lewis to Demaray, April 30, 1929, Box 6, Folder 291, CBC.
66. C. G. Thomson "to Horace M. Albright," report, January 9, 1930, Box 970.33 I-1 "Yosemite- Indians" #44, YNPRL.
67. Tresidder to Lewis, June 18, 1925, Box 970.33 I-5 "Yosemite - Indians," YNPRL. Also see C. G. Thomson to Horace Albright, Ianuary 9, 1930, Box 970.33 I-1 "Yosemite- Indians" #44, YNPRL.
68. Advisory Board report for April 25, 1930, in "Briefs of Report of Advisory Board, 1928-1940," I-5 "Indian Affairs," YNPRL, as cited in Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness, 120, 174n21, and for more on this proposal and the subsequent destruction and removal of the Yosemite Indian village see 120-32.
69. Program and prize list, 1929.
70. Thomson to Albright, January 9, 1930, Box 970.33 I-i "Yosemite - Indians" #44, YNPRL.
71. Board of Expert Advisors, "Draft of Report: Meeting of the Committee of Expert Advisers Yosemite National Park, at Yosemite Valley, April 24th and 25th, 1930," Box 970.33 I-5 "Indian - General," YNPRL. For more on Indian removal from Yosemite see Spence, Dispossessing the Wilderness, 124.
Author affiliation:
Boyd Cothran is a PhD candidate in history at the University of Minnesota. He is currently working on his dissertation, "Marketplaces of Remembering: Episodes from the Commodification of California's Last Indian War."

Read more: