Native Americans Convey "Natural" Image


This trademark is for a bottle of patented medicine, sold under the name of Shoshone bitters. It depicts a native American dressed in the artist's concept of native American clothing. The figure is a female and holds in her hand a twig with leaves, possibly representing the bitters. The label reads Shoshone Bitters, the best remedy in the world for loss of appetite, general debility, weakness, etc. Price one dollar per bottle, manufactured by Mckenzie and Whitver, Oakland, California. The label has brown lettering on a cream-colored background.





Businesses used images of Native Americans on their trademarks to convey the message that their products were natural and pure. The romantic (if not wholly realistic) images of Native Americans found on trademarks such as these also indicated to consumers that products might have age-old and perhaps mystical powers, especially when used to prevent or cure illness. Images of Native Americans on patent medicine labels generally portray them in interpretations of traditional dress in an outdoor setting. Manufacturers of patent medicines took advantage of the public’s distrust of physicians while emphasizing Native Americans' connection with nature and knowledge of natural products and remedies. When manufacturers claimed that their patent medicines were made from “natural” ingredients, it gave consumers the impression that these remedies were also free from alcohol or harmful drugs.