Thursday, August 20, 2015

Two Frontierland Views, March 13, 1958

Frontierland has mostly had a fairly progressive view of Native Americans throughout its history - especially in the 1950's; Walt Disney and his Imagineers made a point of portraying the indigenous people as peaceful and industrious, with a rich society and culture of their own. But we know that things were not always so peaceful as settlers began to invade Indian territories.

In this first photo, we get a pretty good view of some Indians at the top of a hill beside the Rivers of America - they are on the lookout for potential trouble as various boats passed on the water. And who can blame them?

Here's a closer look. This photo is from 1958, and I don't think that this tableau was there for much longer; perhaps the plants just grew too lush for them to be seen?

I remembered a photo in LIFE magazine that sort of reminded me of this, but (once I found it) it turns out that it is a posed photo with live people rather than fiberglass mannequins.

Meanwhile, things didn't go so well for this settler, who lies on his back with an arrow through his chest while his cabin is ablaze. Compared to earlier photos, the maturing foliage makes this feel more like part of a huge wilderness.


Nanook said...


It is hard to believe those indians and the settlers cabin are sitting in the middle of Orange County, occupying a former orange grove. Oh - Walt and his Imagineers-!

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

What I find interesting about the "humans" and "animals along the Rivers of America is how static they are when compared to the "humans" and "animals" along the tropical Rivers of the World that make up the Jungle Cruise. Perhaps it's because on the Jungle Cruise the scenes are close up and supposed to be adventurous while on the Rivers of America the views are more distant and the wilderness more quiet and peaceful, almost pastoral-like in quality. Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

Ha, there's old Bill out showin' off his new Arrow shirt...


Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, it really IS remarkable, with the hills, rivers, an island… all carved out of flat orchards only a few years before. In my opinion this is one of the Imagineers’ most amazing achievments.

K. Martinez, I think you’re right, the distances in Frontierland are generally much greater than on the Jungle Cruise. The most prominent figure (the waving Chief) does move a little - and now they have the “Storyteller” tableau.

JG, I wonder how many young’uns would get the Arrow shirt reference? Not many, I’d wager.

Nanook said...


And even fewer would know of just the Arrow Collar.

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, what about those roving gangs of J.C. Leyendecker fans? You don't want to run into them in a dark alley.

Nanook said...


Gorillas Don't Blog... for the sophisticated, 'Thinking Man'.

Matthew said...

Sailing Ship Columbia Spiel - Circa 1987 - NON S.O.P (mind you)

Hawkeye: "Indian war party off the port bow!"
Captain: "PORT BOW??!!! How many Indians are there Hawkeye?!"
Hawkeye: "Let me count them Cap'n... there's one little, two little, three little Indians, four little, five little six little Indians, seven little, eight little, nine little Indians, ten little Indian boys."
Captain: "Err... Hawkeye I count eleven."
Hawkeye: "Oh... yes... eleven little Indian boys."
Captain: "Now ship mates late me point out Hawkeye's error. You see according to the Captain's log, whenever ten or fewer Indians gather off the port bow this shall be known as a 'Indian War Party.' Whenever eleven or more Indians gather off the port bow... oh yes, here it is... this shall be known as a 'Tupperare Party.' Now do you have anything to say to the crew Hawkeye after getting us all riled up like that?"

Beautiful photos and well written commentary Major!

Always your pal,
Amazon Belle