When the World Came to Campus, 1909

Igorrotes and Eskimos

Two Pay Streak attractions that were considered educational at the time of the AYP were the displays of the Igorrote (today usually spelled Igorote) and Eskimo Villages.

The Igorrote Village display was one of the most popular on the Pay Streak. It showed traditional dwellings, daily activities like dances, meal preparation, and weaving, and the agricultural operations of the Igorrote, a people indigenous to the Philippine Island of Luzon. Women in the village even gave birth during the AYP.

The Igorrote Village at the AYP followed the pattern of other expositions. Igorrote villages had been sponsored by the U.S. War Department at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904, and by private management at the 1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial in Portland. Because the Philippine Islands were a recently acquired territory of the U.S., there was much curiosity at this time about the lands and people. Despite this exhibit's educational intentions, a group of Filipino sailors visiting Seattle in July objected to the Village, asserting that “the Igorrote is not a representative of the Filipino native.”

The Igorrote male's attire of only a headpiece and a loin cloth shocked some of the fairgoers, among them members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). The WCTU asked the Reverend Mark Matthews, a Presbyterian minister well known for his moral crusades in Seattle, to view the Igorrotes and offer an opinion on the propriety of the natives' dress. Matthews led a delegation of civic leaders, including Judge Thomas Burke, Washington governor M.E. Hay, managers of the Igorrote display, and Exposition president John E. Chilberg to investigate the Igorrote camp.

The delegation decided that the Igorrotes' attire was appropriate for the occasion and even tried on loin cloths over their regular clothing. Needless to say, the local papers fully exploited the controversy, poking fun at both sides.

The WCTU, however, warned women not to visit the Pay Streak without male escort. “In view of the questionable attractions to be found on the Pay Streak,” a WCTU communiqué read, “we do not advise our members and friends to come the exposition without male escorts, or to send young people to the fair alone.”

One of the largest and most profitable concessions on the Pay Streak was the Eskimo Village. In the Village, one pamphlet notes, “Eskimos from Labrador, Alaska and Siberia are gathered from distant countries for visitors to study.”  This real-life exhibit included native dances, canoe racing, igloos made of caribou hides, native artists at work, and sled dog rides.

Another attraction of the Eskimo Village was Caribou Bill Cooper who had driven his team of Malamutes from Nome, Alaska to Seattle during a 136 day long trek. A sled dog team ride from Bill and the "Husky Express" was one of the concessions offered on the Pay Streak, and probably ran along a track in the Eskimo Village building.

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