Not our tribe

The Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company, of New Haven, Connecticut (who were white men), employed 300 Native Americans (not the Kickapoo tribe) to put on a “traveling Indian medicine show” while they sold what has been termed “snake oil” in the name of “the Indian way of life.”

The Kickapoo tribe originated in the southern Great Lakes region, mainly the land between Lake Erie and Lake Michigan. During the French and Indian War, the Kickapoo tribe was an ally of the French, and settled in the area of Fort Detroit in the early 1700’s. Eventually they were shipped to Oklahoma.

In 1906, the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 made it illegal for the company to use “Indian” in the name of any product or advertisement.

This image of the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Show is taken from the original glass plate negative made by the photographer, my ancestor, Pierre Gentieu, c. 1900. I photographed the deteriorating original glass plate negative approximately 100 years later.