The Construction of the 'American Indian' Image and Its Influence in the Past, Present, and Future of a Tourism Landscape

Larissa Juip, Michigan Technological University

A period of fieldwork in the fall of 2020 to document the Minnetonka Resort in Copper Harbor, MI as part of the tourism landscape of the Keweenaw Peninsula brought up questions about the use of Indigenous tropes for the site and for tourism landscapes at large using an object-driven method of inquiry. The contemporary tourism landscape of North America continues to be home to a variety of Indigenous tropes. In the context of the Keweenaw Peninsula and Copper Harbor, these tropes are manifested in Indigenous toponyms, the bastardization of Indigenous language, and the appropriation of Indigenous imagery. American history is full of examples of appropriation dating back to its establishment as an independent nation, through nineteenth century popular writings, and early twentieth century media representations, all of which fueled the automobile tourism industry that began to take off in the interwar period and continues to be present in the tourism landscape. By combining fieldwork data, archival resources, private collections of ads and ephemera, interviews, and literature reviews, an analysis of the origins of Indigenous tropes in the United States revealed a ‘pendulum narrative’ of shifting imagery that continues today and is manifested in the tourism landscape of Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 259. Drawing Boundaries