In my research on Flag desecration debates I stumbled upon interesting side discussions. As Congress considered passing a flag desecration act, the topic of the cigar store Indian loomed large in many newspapers. Here is an example from the Eureka Herald and Greenwood County Republican printed January 29, 1880. This Eureka is in Kansas. The article shows an early example of the commercial use and abuses of Native Americans for advertising purposes. The article drips with sarcasm and has a paternalistic undercurrent. Today cigar store Indians are a curio from the past, but the issue of appropriating the images and likenesses of Native Americans as emblems and mascots is an echo from history that has yet to be resolved.
Terry A. Del Bene
Writer- "Have Words, Will Travel"