Tuesday, April 03, 2012

TPE: The Indian Village

Although not one of the most publicized parts of early Disneyland, the Indian Village still truly fascinates me. All of the photos I see of this "attraction" show a ton of guests enjoying what they see while learning a bit about a culture different from their own. Walt's Edutainment rarely shown this bright!

Opened in 1955 near Adventureland (between the Frontierland Train Depot and Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House), the original Indian Village had authentic live Indians who performed their ceremonial dances for guests. These first few photos show the area before the park opened in 1955; they are dated 1954. You can see the edge of Aunt Jemima's on the left-hand side of photo number one.

In this September 1955 photo, the Frontierland Depot is visible in the background while a rare banner for the Indian Village can be seen in the foreground.

Talk about a grumpy-pants; the girl on the left has no business being at Disneyland with that sourpuss look on her face.

Many of the pictures here show the Ceremonial Dance Circle, where guests could watch six authentic tribal dances: The Omaha (called the War Dance by white settlers), The Shield & Spear, The Eagle, The Zuni-Comanche, The Mountain Spirit, and The Friendship Dances. Tribal performers were invited for a periodic contract with housing for the duration of their run at the park. Within six months, another tribe would be represented with slightly different performances of their tribal customs. Kids were invited to participate during these performances. Representing many tribes, Disney used tribal consultants to create displays and practice rituals that were passed down through individual tribal customs. The Indian Village presented the culture, customs, and arts of Native America including teepees, totem poles, and a burial ground. Guests could meet a full-blooded Indian Chief, buy authentic Native American crafts at the Indian Trading Post, or paddle an Indian War Canoe.

Note the Adventureland banner in the background as we zoom in:

Those are some short shorts!

Check out the Davy Crockett T-Shirt!

Something about having a stuffed buffalo just doesn't seem right.

Saving the best for last, these two black and white photos are my very favorite Indian Village photos, as these young lads jubilantly pose with a Chief.

He's having just as much as they are. I love it.

The village moved in 1956 to what is now Critter Country. Doesn't sound like a fair trade to me.

See more vintage Disneyland Indian Village photos on my Indian Village web page.


Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

I'm still loving this TPE series! Great '54 shots - wow!!! THANKS!

...But It Wasn't Always That Way! said...

You don't see or hear much about the *original* Indian Village. How fun and exciting... but I disagree about the stuffed buffalo. He's great! I wonder where he is now..?? Also, I think I wore one of those kids' jackets on my last trip to the 50's.

Eric "1.21 gigawatts" S.

keeline said...

Nice 1955 (not 1954 of course) photos of the Indian Village when it was next to the Jungle Cruise. The palms behind some of the photos creates an "only in California" impression.

While it may not get a lot of coverage in today's discussions of Disneyland history, which is what I think you are referring to, it did get a lot of press at the time. There are numerous articles in the Disneyland News newspaper during its original monthly run (July 1955-March 1957). It was even mentioned prominently by Walt in a full-page ad in June 1956 as the new location was being prepared.

There are also profiles of the Native Americans who performed there in the Summer 1965 issue of Backstage Disneyland and other sources.