Above is an advertisement for the program ‘The Best Our Ambition’ at the Ye Liberty Theatre in Salem, Oregon. This advertisement was found in the Weekly Chemawa American newspaper which was published by the Salem Indian Training School on July 14, 1911.
This advertisement was placed within a page full of various other advertisements. It is likely the school was trying to compress all the advertisements onto a single page, therefore this advertisement was not a central focal point. The advertisement states there is “matinee everyday except for Sunday,” and there are “daily evening performances.” The advertisement did not list a price for the showing, which is quite unusual when comparing it to various other advertisements; (and I doubt the theater was free). Placing the price on the advertisement would have been helpful.
The fact the advertisement is within the Chemawa Boarding School newspaper is interesting. This means the theater wants students from this area to attend the theater. I do find the this odd considering the students had to pay to leave the school, and then potentially pay again to see a program. These are young students, and it is likely this would not have been feasible. It may be more likely the theater wanted to reach the employees, not the students. Or perhaps the theater was very interested in having a younger audience.
Looking at historical context, the use of this advertisement could be a way to further assimilate the Indigenous children attending the boarding school. Boarding schools have a history of wanting to strip Indigenous children of their language, traditions, culture, and identities. Films have the ability to influence individuals. It could be seen as a tool to illustrate a ‘normal’ American life to children they are trying to make more ‘American’.