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Aussie Cowboys and Indians - Cowboys, cowgirls and Indians.

Buckshot Bear

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Cowboys and Indians - Cowboys, cowgirls and Indians.
If the Australian National Historical Collection is anything to go by, ‘Cowboys and Indians’ was an extraordinarily popular children’s game between the 1920s and 1980s.
The Museum’s many costumes and toys are remarkable for their distinctive transnational design.
Through the rosy lens of nostalgia, the so-called ‘Wild West’ appears to be all in good fun. Similar rough-and-tumble duels certainly continue to captivate children today. But do these objects hold deeper cultural meanings in a postcolonial world.
In recent years, global advocacy for reconciliation has implicated the game and its stereotypical costumes in reappraisals of colonial history. But whether this material culture represents cultural appropriation, a meeting of colonial and First Nations culture, or some new hybrid creation, is a question not easily answered.
By the 1920s and 1930s comic books, radio serials, music and rodeo performances had taken up the theme with enthusiasm. Most popular were gritty Western movies and their stylish Hollywood actors.
By the early 1950s many Australian children were devotees. To one Brisbane journalist’s despair, ‘little boys swagger around in blue jeans, check shirts and cowboy hats … there is hardly a suburb where the unwary pedestrian can escape being ambushed in the best Hollywood style’.
Above all, it was the arrival of television in 1956 that affirmed the cowboy’s place in Australian popular culture. Western serials featured on the early evening program and were enjoyed by the whole family from the comfort of their loungerooms.
Prior to this, children’s costumes were mostly made by hand from fabric scraps or paper. Now cheap, shop-bought, western-style costumes were in hot demand.
Many Australian suppliers, including Lindsay’s toy factory in Sydney, stepped up to the challenge. Inspired by the games played by his children, Albert Lindsay first made cowboy costumes in the 1930s.
After 1956 Lindsay’s acquired licences from the major American production companies and created a range of dazzling characters drawing on the most popular television programs.
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