BACKSTORY (1955–1971): Opened in 1955 near Adventureland (between the Frontierland Train Depot and Aunt Jemima’s Pancake House), the original village had authentic live Indians who performed their ceremonial dances for guests. Many of the pictures here show the Ceremonial Dance Circle, which let guests watch six authentic tribal dances (summer, weekends, and holidays only): The Omaha (called the War Dance by white settlers), The Shield & Spear, The Eagle, The Zuni-Comanche, The Mountain Spirit, and The Friendship Dances. Tribal performers were invited for a periodic contract with housing for the duration of their run at the park. Within six months, another tribe would be represented with slightly different performances of their tribal customs. Kids were invited to participate during these performances. The village moved in 1956 to what is now Critter Country. Representing many tribes, Disney used tribal consultants to create displays and practice rituals that were passed down through individual tribal customs. The Indian Village presented the culture, customs, and arts of Native America including teepees, totem poles, and a burial ground. Guests could meet a full-blooded Indian Chief, buy authentic Native American crafts at the Indian Trading Post, or paddle an Indian War Canoe (which opened on July 4, 1956).
From the signage outside the teepee area:
This is an authentic reproduction of a typical encampment of Plains Indians and their way of life during the years when the white man first entered the vast Indian territory of the west.
The teepees are decorated with symbols and figures telling of important family and tribal events or great battles.
ALL OF THIS INDIAN EQUIPMENT WAS CREATED ESPECIALLY FOR THE NEW WALT DISNEY FEATURE MOTION PICTURE.....
"WESTWARD HO THE WAGONS"
By the late 1960’s, a series of labor problems had begun between the Indians and Disneyland. By 1971, continued animosity between the two and lack of interest by the guests caused the final demise of the village. Bear Country moved in and the Indians were no more. The Indian War Canoes were renamed Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes, which operated until October 3, 1998. After that, the Canoes became more of a seasonal attraction that were opened during the summer and or busier times. The Indian Trading Post remained the Indian Trading Post until 1989, when it became the Briar Patch for Splash Mountain. The tree trunk shaped trash cans from the Indian Village were shipped off to Orlando and re-used at the Fort Wilderness Campground.