Transnational Indigenous Exchange: Rethinking Global Interactions of Indigenous Peoples at the 1904 St. Louis Exposition
Abstract

When the St. Louis Exposition opened in 1904 it became host to the largest gathering of the world's Indigenous peoples to that date. However, questions about how Native peoples understood these transnational Indigenous interactions have remained largely out of the realm of academic inquiry—a fact often attributed to the "absence" of primary sources. This article counters such assertions by providing a rereading that interrogates colonial assumptions embedded in both archival materials and contemporary scholarly interpretations. By analyzing a candid photograph of two Native women—one Tzoneca, the other Ainu—taken at the fair by Jessie Tarbox Beals and utilizing Frederick Starr's journal, this article ultimately questions whether the Exposition's celebration of empire may have inadvertently served anti-colonial purposes. Namely, by presenting Indigenous participants with opportunities to forge relationships across the globe, a fact that may have served to inform the late 20th century emergence of a global Indigenous consciousness.


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