This film tells the heartbreaking story of how thousands of indigenous people from all over the world were openly displayed in the United States in the early 20th Century. Many were kidnapped from their own lands and trafficked, all under the guise of good “scientific research.”
The onlookers appeased their own consciences and hardened their hearts by convincing themselves that since the beings exhibited didn’t quite look like them or like the image of God that they had formed for themselves, it must mean that they were less than human– biologically inferior. That made it ok to treat them like animals.
Men like P.T Barnum found ways to make money off the gullible people desperately seeking to add value to themselves through a false sense of superiority. He exhibited monkey men and women from different backgrounds, some simply suffering from genetic disorders that made them ‘different’ and thus, good for business.
The St. Louis World Fair proudly announced the Grand March of the Barbarians featuring ‘types of mankind from all different continents’. This included ‘Pygmies from Darkest Africa, Head Hunting Dog Eaters from Luzon, and Hairy Ainus from Yezzo, Japan. The people on display were forced to act in ways that ‘proved’ that they were violent and inferior, and were also tested to determine their intelligence and their pain threshold.
These men, women, and children were imported to be put on public display in what looked like a giant human zoo. This was done under the watchful eye of the famous anthropologist William McGee, a man who firmly believed that there were stages to the human race and only Caucasians belonged at the top with Africans all the way at the bottom.
Eventually, the very elite proclaimed these fellow humans to be the missing link between man and monkey, and men of science from the most prestigious universities in the United States openly encouraged using them for scientific research. Many showed up to collect the dead bodies of those who were on display, to conduct further studies.
They called non-whites savages, subhuman, wild, and barbaric. They called their cultural rituals devil worship and witchcraft. They justified human trafficking in the name of science and religion. They kicked them, pushed them, and poked them all for fun. Who were the real savages?