Olympic Games: 'Great Fun for Savages'
The Globe and Mail
One hundred years ago, three Ainu couples, a lone male and two young girls travelled to the United States to take part in a living exhibit arranged for the crowds at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. They lived in a large thatched hut on the fairgrounds, part of a global village in which peoples from around the world -- called the primitives -- were on display.
In a run-up to the third Olympiad being held in conjunction with the world fair, U.S. officials organized something called Anthropology Days. "Hairy Ainus" were pitted against "savage Zulus" and other aboriginals in sporting contests to determine strength and speed. Anthropology Days was organized by the heads of the anthropology and physical education departments of the world exposition. The idea was to test the popular notion that "the average savage was fleet of foot, strong of limb, accurate with the bow and arrow and expert in throwing the stone." The two-day contest was held in mid-August when many scientists were attending the fair.
The crown jewel was a 47-acre site organized by the U.S. government to display the conquered peoples of the Philippines, the newest American possession acquired during the recently concluded Spanish-American War. An homage to imperialism, the exhibit was designed to show how America would bring progress to savage peoples. >>continue