The interests of Euro-American people who supported assimilation campaigns and participated in heritage tourism converged in Southern California in the early 1900s. The visual culture illustrated in postcards created an alternative sense of place. It was based in Native exploitation that promoted modernization and celebrated assimilation programs. Local promoters, tourists, and new residents displaced Indigenous people from active roles in the cultural heritage. Promoters and tourists used sites imbued with Native life, such as the Sherman Institute and the California missions, to popularize romanticized histories of the region. While intended to be visually pleasing, postcards from Southern California in the late 1800s and early 1900s represented a socially constructed history that ignored the realities of these contested sites. Using appeals to nostalgia to frame superficial narratives of vanishing Native American cultures, boosters created a market for collectors that capitalized on cultural tourism. Together, this visual culture and the physical landscape of many of Southern California’s tourist sites attempted to publicize the success of Native assimilation. This visual culture highlighted the climate of the time, when writers and promoters applauded progress toward Americanization and brought those views to wide audiences.

You do not currently have access to this content.