‘Drink Like an Indian’: Racism to Celebrate Thanksgiving

A sports bar in St. Paul, Minnesota is featuring a blatantly racist ad to attract business over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend (h/t to reader Gina Kundan for alerting us to this ad).

While I’m a little puzzled by what it means to “party like a Pilgrim” (were they big partiers?!?), the invitation to “drink like an Indian” – with the illustration of a passed out Native American man leaning against a white cowboy in the background – trades on some of the oldest stereotypes of Native Americans as “drunks.”   The convivial image of a white cowboy and the “drunk” Indian as companionable drinking buddies, obscures a history of genocide.  (Would it be possible to imagine a similar image featuring an SS officer and a Jewish person in such an embrace?)    The image of the supposedly indigenous woman in the photo (I have my doubts) dressed in a sexy outfit and provocative pose also plays on the gendered racism of Native American women as squaw, princess, sexual slave.

Is it possible to get a drink in this bar without the bad politics?  Bartender: I’ll have a shot with a beer back, hold the racism.

Addendum (Joe):
Not only is this racist, but rather ignorant about the history of the Massachusetts Puritans (including those called ‘Pilgrims’). They actually were very strict in their morality and condemned many such “amusements” like this as very corrupt and sinful. They would be horrified to be identified with hard drinking and partying like this suggests. And, of course, the Massachusetts Puritans also engaged in genocide against indigenous societies like the Pequots in the Massacusetts area. At one point, in 1637, they surrounded an Indian village and burned it down with hundreds of Indians in it. Then shot others, sold remainder to slavery. A nice bunch for indigenous people to party with, right? Many Americans, especially whites like these, seem to be just plain dumb about North American history.


  1. Blaque Swan, previously No1KState

    This is just an awful, ugly ad. I could be misremembering, but “fire water” was used by the US in ethnic cleansing efforts? And I’m sure that due to socioeconomic pressures, Amerindians have amongst the highest rates of alcoholism in the country. So, I just find this ad . . . saddening.

  2. Hillbilly

    I thought for a bit about the “pilgrim” statement and I think it’s a reference to some of the old “cowboys-and-Indians” films with John Wayne when he would say something to the like of “where ya headin’, pilgrim?” If so, you add the loads of stereotypes of Native Americans with a blurring of who the pilgrims were and top it off with the revisionist history of what actually happened in the west to the racist sentiments of the poster and the “fine” establishment that made it.

  3. the Red Flame

    Never mind that alcohol was used by Europeans as a weapon of mass destruction against indigenous of the now-called Amerikas. It was even more successful than bullets and infected blankets and still works today!


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