icon for Home page
icon for Kid's Home page
icon for Digital Collection
icon for Activities
icon for Turns Exhibit
icon for In the Classroom
icon for Chronologies
icon for My Collection

Turns of the Centuries Exhibit > Native American Indians 1880-1920
This theme in other eras: 1680-1720 | 1780-1820 | 1880-1920

Native American Indians 1880-1920

1880-1920Native American Indians

Most northeastern Native people living at the turn of the twentieth century had adapted elements of white culture alongside traditional customs and beliefs. Native people were often invisible to their neighbors unless they were seen demonstrating Indian crafts, speaking Indian languages, or performing in stereotypical Indian "costume." During this era of deep prejudice against Native Americans and other people of color it was often dangerous to talk about one's Native ethnicity. In Vermont and New Hampshire, the Eugenics Project started sterilizing Native people and other "undesirables." Even white reformers argued that Native people could survive only by rejecting their own culture and beliefs and assimilating into white society. Dozens of special boarding schools established for this purpose housed thousands of Native children wrenched from their families and cultures. Paradoxically, non-Natives continued to seek out romantic and exotic ways to interact with Native culture even as they insisted that actual Native peoples conform to the dominant American culture.

Elisabeth Sadoques, Abenaki (Wabenaki) woman, circa 1925
Photo Credit: "Portrait of Elisabeth Sadoques used with permission of Mali Keating courtesy of Lynn Murphy."

Explore these subthemes to better understand Native American Indians at this time.

Place in Time

Place in Time : Hiding in Plain Sight

At a time when it was dangerous to talk about one's Native ethnicity, Jesse Bowman refused to conceal his heritage.

Two Worlds

Two Worlds : Moving Between Worlds

White reformers established dozens of boarding schools at the turn of the century to educate and indoctrinate Native American children in white culture and society.

Points of Contact

Points of Contact : Ethnicity and Tourism

Tourism became a thriving industry as many Native people successfully marketed their ethnicity to an eager white audience seeking romantic and exotic ways to interact with Native American culture.


top of page

button for Side by Side Viewingbutton for Glossarybutton for Printing Helpbutton for How to Read Old Documents


Home | Online Collection | Things To Do | Turns Exhibit | Classroom | Chronologies | My Collection
About This Site | Site Index | Site Search | Feedback