Indians On Tour
Indians on Tour began in 2000 when friend and documentary film maker Ali Kazimi sent me a package with five plastic Indian figures and one cowboy—two of which Ali used to introduce his documentary film on my work “Shooting Indians: A Journey with Jeff Thomas.” Along with the figures was a note that said: “You will find something interesting to do with them.” On my next photo walk in Ottawa I put one of the plastic Indians in my camera bag and returned to a previous site where I had photographed a bronze statue of an Indian hunter. I placed the plastic Indian in front of the bronze Indian and when I saw the photograph I was intrigued by the juxtaposition and the multi-layered meanings. The plastic figures become markers of childhood games of “cowboys and Indians” based on TV shows and movie westerns, of souvenir shop stereotypes, and of historical re-enactment parks found at Frontier Town and Euro-Disney. They also reference the Native people who went “on tour” in these early historical re-enactments like the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. Yet the photographs reverse the typical pattern of tourism. The Indian figures now visit popular non-Native tourist sites of North America and Europe.
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