[Editor's Note: This article is a part of ADText.]

Fig. 1. The Land O'Lakes Maiden Is an Icon
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Fig. 1.

The Land O'Lakes Maiden Is an Icon1

1. Introduction

Throughout its history, American advertising has used language and imagery depicting various ethnic and racial groups. A great many of these representations of non-White people would today be labeled as racist and stereotypical. Although contemporary advertising generally strives to be sensitive to multicultural issues, there remain many places in advertising and marketing where greater efforts are possible. inline graphic inline graphic

This unit focuses specifically on Native American (including Alaskan and Hawaiian) ethnic imagery in advertising. It examines both older representations and some more contemporary ones. It seeks not only to survey the story of Native Americans and advertising but also to serve as a model for similar investigations of the relationship between other ethnic/racial groups and advertising. inline graphic inline graphic

2. Cigar Store Indians

The cigar store Indian is one of the earliest uses of Native American imagery in advertising and marketing. This symbol parallels the use of other identifying symbols for different types of commercial concerns, such as three gold balls for pawnshops and candy-striped poles for barbershops. Historically, such symbols came into use in medieval Europe when the population was largely illiterate and merchants needed an easy way to indicate the types of goods or services they offered. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 2. A Cigar Store Indian Stands Outside this Windsor, England, Tobacco Shop
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Fig. 2.

A Cigar Store Indian Stands Outside this Windsor, England, Tobacco Shop2

In Europe, the earliest examples of cigar store Indians did not attempt to depict the physiognomy or lifestyles of actual Native Americans because carvers in the 1500s had seen none nor had photography been invented. Rather, this early imagery depicted either white Europeans or black Africans in Native American headdresses and costumes (such as kilts made of leaves or feathers). These early figures morphed over time into more complex and detailed representations of Native American cultures and peoples. inline graphic inline graphic

Search the Internet for selling prices of advertising collectibles and modern replicas of cigar store Indiansall of which sell at premium prices today

The use of cigar store Indians in the Americas dates from the late 1700s3 and only began to decline and largely vanish in the 20th century as restrictions on public spaces limited their use on sidewalks. Today cigar store Indians are largely collectors' items, found in museum collections or sold as modern reproductions to enthusiasts of Native American culture and Tobacciana. inline graphic inline graphic

3. Advertising Trade Cards

Advertising trade cards (akin to the more familiar, 20th-century “baseball cards”) were widely distributed in America in the late 1800s. The cards inserted into cigarette packages are perhaps the best known of this genre, but many other companies also distributed cards along with their products or as stand-alone advertising messages. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 3. Arbuckle Coffee Trade Card, front and back (1893)
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Fig. 3.

Arbuckle Coffee Trade Card, front and back (1893)4

What made advertising trade cards particularly appealing to the American public were the colorful images they carried, typically in a series to encourage repeat purchases of a brand. For example, tobacco companies such as Allen & Ginter of Richmond and Duke of Durham distributed series of cards such as beautiful women, flags of all nations, fish, birds, ships, captains, coins, and jokes in the late 1800s. Many consumers collected the cards, often pasting them into albums for display. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 4. An Album Page Containing “American Indian Chiefs” from Allen & Ginter
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Fig. 4.

An Album Page Containing “American Indian Chiefs” from Allen & Ginter5

4. Gratuitous Images

By the end of the 19th century, images of Native Americans had become commonplace in American advertising. Almost all of these images had nothing to do with the real lives of Native Americans nor even advertising products and services to them. Rather, these uses were gratuitous and, according to many critics, harmful from the point of view of the people represented.6 Their sole purpose was to incorporate colorful, exotic imagery into advertising directed at a non-Native market by drawing on one or another (supposed) characteristic of American Indian culture. inline graphic inline graphic

Looking back at the images from the early 20th century, the representations appear stereotypical: Indians in “native” attire, such as beads, feathered headdresses, and fringed buckskins. Quite often the connection of the imagery to the product and its attributes was vague or non-existent. Some companies integrated the “Native American” idea not just into ads but also into their brand names and logos, such as Eskimo Pies and Black Hawk cigars. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 5. Native American References Are the Essence of the Eskimo Pie Brand
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Fig. 5.

Native American References Are the Essence of the Eskimo Pie Brand7

Fig. 6. Another Use of Native American Imagery in Advertising Tobacco
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Fig. 6.

Another Use of Native American Imagery in Advertising Tobacco8

Fig. 7. Hawaiian Airlines Uses This Image on Its Planes
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Fig. 7.

Hawaiian Airlines Uses This Image on Its Planes9

5. American Indians in the Marketplace10

A trip to the grocery store will reveal innumerable items on the shelves that use Native American imagery and cultural artifacts to promote brands. Some prominent ones are Land O'Lakes dairy products, Argo cornstarch, Eskimo pies, and Calumet baking powder. Beyond the grocery store are countless other logos and images that operate similarly. At least three American airlines have or continue to use Native American imagery in their names, logos, or tail designs: Mohawk, Alaska, and Hawaiian. Similarly, many American cars and other highway vehicles also have done so: for example, Jeep Cherokee, Winnebago Brave, Indian, and Chieftain recreational vehicles, and Pontiac. inline graphic inline graphic

These 1973 Winnebago Models Make Reference to American Indian Culture
Video 1.

These 1973 Winnebago Models Make Reference to American Indian Culture

Click to view video

Just as producers modernized images of Aunt Jemima and Betty Crocker over the years, so too did the Argo maiden undergo a similar transformation. Read about the changes here and here.

Argo Cornstarch. Since its launch in 1892, Argo brand cornstarch has had an “Indian maiden” on its box. That image continues to be used today and the brand is widely available throughout grocery stores in America. Like many such images, the Argo corn maiden has evolved over the years. A new maiden appeared on the box in 1964 and a redesigned package and slimmer corn maiden marked the 100th anniversary of the brand in 1992. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 8. The Argo Label Always Depicts the Corn Maiden
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Fig. 8.

The Argo Label Always Depicts the Corn Maiden11

The same company (ACH Food Companies) also sells Mazola corn oil for kitchen use. The appropriation of similar imagery can be seen in a Mazola corn oil margarine commercial from 1976. In this instance, the Native American reference evokes the ideas of nature and purity. However, the spokesperson says, “You call it corn. We call it maize.” This phrasing sets up an us/them dichotomy in which the Native American woman—speaking presumably for all native peoples—accepts this status of other.12 inline graphic inline graphic

A 1976 Mazola Corn Oil Commercial Using Native American Imagery and References
Video 2.

A 1976 Mazola Corn Oil Commercial Using Native American Imagery and References13

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Land O'Lakes Dairy Products. Land O'Lakes also uses an “Indian maiden” in its logo and package design. First introduced in 1928, the Land O'Lakes maiden, simplified and modernized in 1939 and many times thereafter, remains in use today. inline graphic inline graphic

The Land O'Lakes “Indian Maiden” Appears on the Product Package in this 2012 Commercial
Video 3.

The Land O'Lakes “Indian Maiden” Appears on the Product Package in this 2012 Commercial14

Click to view video

Blogger Bossman McGee posted a hard-hitting critique of the Land O'Lakes maiden that explores Native American logos and imagery in marketing and advertising. The implication of his commentary is that these appropriations tell only a limited, overly harmonious story of the relations between American indigenous peoples and European immigrants. inline graphic inline graphic

Video Blogger “BossmanMcGee” Critiques Native American Imagery in Advertising
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Video Blogger “BossmanMcGee” Critiques Native American Imagery in Advertising15

Click to view video

Read about the lore associated with Money House Blessing products at this commercial website.

Money House Blessing Air Freshener and Related Products. Money House Blessing is a brand name for floor wash, air freshener, hand soap, anointing oil, incense, and sachet powder. Each of the packages sold under this brand includes the words “Indian Spirit” and an image of a Native American man in a feather headdress. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 9. Money House Blessing Brand Uses Native American Imagery
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Fig. 9.

Money House Blessing Brand Uses Native American Imagery16

These products seem to have their greatest usage in the African-American hoodoo tradition.17 Hoodoo is concerned with the undoing of spells, tricks, jinxes, and crossed conditions. In its simplest form, hoodoo refers to good magic whereas voodoo refers to bad magic. A standard way to undo bad magic is through ritual house cleaning—sweeping, floor scrubbing, burning incense, use of sachet powder, and spiritual air fresheners. inline graphic inline graphic

The use of Native American imagery with hoodoo products stems from the admiration that many African slaves in the New World had for Native American culture, especially their knowledge and use of herbs. inline graphic inline graphic

Here are some additional brands that use Native American imagery.
Big Chief Sugar
Cherikee Red Soda
Indian Head Corn Meal
Mohawk Carpet

Calumet Baking Powder. Calumet brand baking powder originated in 1889 in Chicago and is still sold today. The word Calumet is derived from French but is now a standard term for Native American smoking pipes, including the so-called peace pipe. There is only the most tenuous connection that links the product to Native American culture. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 10. Calumet Baking Powder Uses Native American Imagery
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Fig. 10.

Calumet Baking Powder Uses Native American Imagery18

6. Constructing the Idea of “American Indian” Culture

The American Indian looms large in many areas of American culture beyond advertising and marketing, such as literature, film, coinage, postage stamps, art, and other forms of commerce, to name just some of the most prominent examples. In nearly every case, American Indian references tend to be an amalgam of lifestyles, practices, and artifacts of various indigenous groups. For example, it's easy to imagine a Hollywood Indian wearing a feather headdress (originally from the Great Plains area of the American Midwest), holding a tomahawk (originally from Iroquois and other groups in the Northeastern Woodlands states like New York), standing in front of a tepee (also from the Great Plains), or next to a totem pole (originally from the Pacific Northwest, Washington State and British Columbia). Other familiar emblems like peace pipes, war cries, smoke signals, papooses, bows and arrows, moccasins—again drawn from many sources—are a part of this mythological Indian. inline graphic inline graphic

In addition to mixing material culture and practices from different parts of Native North America, this mythological culture also collapses cultural histories into a sort of frozen and unchanging time before contact with Europeans. First contact of foreigners with Native American peoples occurred at different times in different places over a 300-or-so-year time frame. It began on the East Coast in the 17th century and moved gradually westward into the 20th as European peoples expanded the American frontier. inline graphic inline graphic

The idea of American Indian culture as aboriginal is problematic. For example, the horse—so commonly associated with Hollywood Indians—was actually introduced via Mexico during Spanish conquest. Thus, depicting the American Indian as riding a horse actually represents an advanced state of the intermingling of Western and Native American cultures rather than an aboriginal condition that existed prior to Western contact. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 11. “Gee! We Are Going to See Real, Live Indians”
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Fig. 11.

“Gee! We Are Going to See Real, Live Indians”19

7. A Typology of Native Americans in Advertising

Examine some of the ways that Native American culture is presented in film) and museums). Conduct an Internet search to discover the lore concerning Native Americans in the Boston Tea Party and the origin of Thanksgiving.

Along with the tendencies to collapse historical depth and to amalgamate the material cultures and customs of Native Americans,20 literature, film, advertising, and various forms of popular culture have also tended to create certain stereotypes about Indians. inline graphic inline graphic

Native American women are typically presented as one of two quite different images: the American Indian princess (of which Pocahontas is perhaps the most familiar example), and the squaw (typically depicted in gendered roles like collecting and preparing food, caring for children, and so on). Advertising imagery, in particular, alternated between these two depictions of Native American women. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 12. Indian Chewing Gum Card from the 1960s
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Fig. 12.

Indian Chewing Gum Card from the 1960s21

Fig. 13. Squaw Brand Canned Vegetables (c. 1920s)
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Fig. 13.

Squaw Brand Canned Vegetables (c. 1920s) 22

Native American men, by contrast, are presented historically as either the noble savage (in other words, a living example of a prototype imagined by Western philosophers) or the marauding warrior (of “the-only-good-Indian-is-a-dead-Indian” and Western movies fame). As in the case of Native American women, these stereotypic characterizations that predate advertising imagery of Indians are incorporated and further developed within advertising. Thus, the imagery of Native American men shows them sometimes being idealized and glorified23 while at other times being demonized.24 inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 14. A Noble Savage
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Fig. 14.

A Noble Savage25

Fig. 15. A Marauding Warrior
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Fig. 15.

A Marauding Warrior26

Children, on the other hand, appeared in scenes modeling assigned gender roles or, when infants, as “papooses” strapped to cradle boards. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 16. Indian Babies Are Invariably Shown as Papooses
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Fig. 16.

Indian Babies Are Invariably Shown as Papooses27

Fig. 17. This Child Is Learning Weaving from an Older Woman
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Fig. 17.

This Child Is Learning Weaving from an Older Woman28

8. Talking Like an Indian

Many excellent resources for teachers that offer guidance for avoiding and teaching about stereotyping Native Americans are available online.

The language spoken by Native Americans in ads, especially older ones from the earlier part of the 20th century, is highly stylized. It is a type of English whose words and grammar emerged, thanks to Hollywood and other popular cultural forms like ads, as one of the most enduring aspects of the American Indian stereotype. inline graphic inline graphic

Frequent “Indian” words or expressions like wampum, ugh, heap-big, are peppered into what otherwise is a broken English characterized by shortened sentences, omitted words, and unusual usages of common English words. This language was once common in advertising's representation of Native Americans. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 18. The Children In this Ad Use “Indian Talk,” Whereas the Rabbit Speaks Standard English
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Fig. 18.

The Children In this Ad Use “Indian Talk,” Whereas the Rabbit Speaks Standard English29

In addition, Native Americans are frequently shown “talking” through smoke signals. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 19. This Ad Depicts the Stereotypic Idea of Native American Communication through Smoke Signals
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Fig. 19.

This Ad Depicts the Stereotypic Idea of Native American Communication through Smoke Signals30

9. The Preeminence of Plains Indian Culture in Imagery

If asked to describe the culture of American Indians depicted in films and advertising imagery, many people would describe a sort of amalgam of Plains Indians31 cultures, with a few extraneous well-known artifacts and images thrown in for good measure. This would be the American Indian who rides a horse and lives in a tepee. His family would likely be encamped with a small number of other Indian families. The men would be hunters and fighters. They would have both bows and arrows and guns. Their wives, sisters, and mothers would either be voluptuous princesses or middle-aged squaws, often with babies and children nearby. Their food would be fruits and berries collected from the abundance of nature, corn they had planted and harvested, or meat from wild animals they had hunted down and killed. The men would communicate with other “tribes” using smoke signals. They would stand erect while looking out over vast plains, often from high vantage points. Their emotions would be restrained (as would the women's). They'd sit by campfires at night, smoking peace pipes and chanting. inline graphic inline graphic

This pretty well describes Indians of Hollywood and advertising but fails on several grounds to reflect both past and present realities of Native American peoples. First, it amalgamates the more than 560 indigenous nations that exist with in the United States today and treats them as more or less uniform. inline graphic inline graphic

Second, this mythological Indian is based on what scholar Stephanie Molholt calls the “Plains Indian Motif,”32 thereby giving precedence to a stereotype largely drawn from one cultural region, the so-called Plains Indians (who represent only about 5% of the indigenous population). This although the motif is not standardized, it tends to incorporate a few to most of the following characteristics:

  • - wearing feathers or a full headdress and buckskin

  • - face paint

  • - tepees

  • - bows and arrows

  • - tomahawks

  • - wild behavior

  • - violence

  • - not living in modern times

  • - opposing progress inline graphic inline graphic

Third, a standardized stereotype of Native Americans based on Plains Indians culture denies the existence of other peoples, discrediting them and negating their presence. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 20. This Image Epitomizes the “Plains Indian Motif”
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Fig. 20.

This Image Epitomizes the “Plains Indian Motif”33

10. Eroticizing the Other

During Fall 2011 the Phi Kappa Phi fraternity at Duke University issued an email invitation to a party. It was widely criticized at Duke and on various Internet sites for appropriating and sexualizing Native American culture and peoples. The following is an excerpt from the fraternity's email invitation:

“In 1621 some crazy pilgrims had a pretty brutal harvest. Word on the street was they didn't have enough food for half the bros in Plymouth. Then some hot natives came along with some extra food.… On Saturday, the brothers of Pi Kappa Phi will be honoring that party spirit. There will be a cornucopia of treats in our modern-day teepee. Tap into your inner pocahotness, wear a few feathers and party like you don't care if you survive the winter.”34 inline graphic inline graphic

Similarly, many ads (as well as movies, TV shows and so on) have sexualized Native Americans. Typically, this occurs in eroticized portrayals of Indian maidens as in the two figures below but also often includes young, shirtless, “braves.” inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 21. Minnehaha's Exposed Legs, Small Waist and Large Breasts Are the Object of Hiawatha's Gaze
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Fig. 21.

Minnehaha's Exposed Legs, Small Waist and Large Breasts Are the Object of Hiawatha's Gaze35

Fig. 22. Sexualized Native American Bodies Are Presented as Objects for the Gaze of Non-Natives
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Fig. 22.

Sexualized Native American Bodies Are Presented as Objects for the Gaze of Non-Natives36

11. Native Americans Speak Back

From time to time various groups protest the stereotypic representations of Native Americans in popular culture venues such as advertising, movies, popular music, and so on. A notorious example of the appropriation of Native American imagery occurred in a much publicized fashion show where an Anglo model wore a war bonnet and various other paraphernalia intended to evoke indigenous American culture. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 23. This Victoria's Secret Model Sparked Protests from Native American Groups
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Fig. 23.

This Victoria's Secret Model Sparked Protests from Native American Groups37

Victoria's Secret. The protest largely occurred on the World Wide Web and shows how this modern medium helps consumers react quickly and rally support for their complaints. Here is a news report from the Hollywood Reporter:

Victoria's Secret has pulled footage of a model wearing a Native American headdress from the [2012] broadcast of its annual fashion show after several groups complained. inline graphic inline graphic

In the fashion show, which took place Nov. 7 and will air Dec. 4 on CBS, Karlie Kloss modeled a leopard-print lingerie set while wearing the headdress, also known as a war bonnet, along with turquoise jewelry and fringe-adorned heels. inline graphic inline graphic

On her blog Native Appropriations, which covers the way indigenous cultures are portrayed in pop culture, blogger Adrienne K. wrote that Victoria's Secret was guilty of “egregious cultural appropriation, stereotyping and marginalizing of Native peoples.”38 inline graphic inline graphic

Meanwhile, Indian Country columnist Ruth Hopkins wrote that she was “livid” about the company's “mean-spirited, disrespectful trivialization of my blood ancestry and the proud Native identity I work hard to instill in my children.” She also called for a boycott of the company and went on to explain why the incident was offensive. inline graphic inline graphic

“Let's peel away the layers of this tacky, racist onion,” she wrote. “For one, Ms. Kloss has no business wearing a war bonnet at all. Not only is she not Native, she hasn't earned the honor. Among my people, the Oceti Sakowin (Sioux), war bonnets are exclusively worn by men, and each feather within a war bonnet is symbolic of a brave act of valor accomplished by that man. Not just any Tom, Dick or Harry had the privilege of wearing a war bonnet. Who wears a war bonnet? Tatanka Iyotanka, Sitting Bull. Not a no-account waif paid to prance around on stage in her underwear.”39 inline graphic inline graphic

Over the weekend, Victoria's Secret tweeted an apology to its 1.4 million followers and said the footage won't be shown on TV. inline graphic inline graphic

“We are sorry that the Native American headdress in our fashion show has upset individuals,” the message read. “The outfit will be removed from the broadcast.” inline graphic inline graphic

For her part, Kloss also apologized via Twitter. inline graphic inline graphic

Crazy Horse Malt Liquor. Another controversy involved the use of the name Crazy Horse for a brand of malt liquor. Although the brand was marketed in 32 states for several years during the 1990s, the estate of the Sioux man by that name objected. Eventually the Stroh Brewing Company that owned the name at the time dropped the brand. inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 24. The Crazy Horse Defense Project Recommended Product Boycotts in Support of Native American Rights to Names and Images
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Fig. 24.

The Crazy Horse Defense Project Recommended Product Boycotts in Support of Native American Rights to Names and Images40

With seven horses, 32 blankets, some tobacco and sweet grass—and an apology—a company has settled a lawsuit brought by American Indians over the marketing of Crazy Horse Malt Liquor. inline graphic inline graphic

John Stroh III, chairman of SBC Holdings Inc., read a letter of apology to descendants of the warrior Crazy Horse and other Indians at a ceremony Thursday night on the Rosebud Reservation, about 250 miles southwest of Sioux Falls. inline graphic inline graphic

“We understand your deep and sincere feeling that the marketing of the malt liquor beverage ... disparaged his spirit and caused you and his other descendants emotional distress,” he said. inline graphic inline graphic

His remarks came one day after SBC announced the company—which got out of the brewing business in 1999—had settled the lawsuit over the use of the Crazy Horse name…. inline graphic inline graphic

Seth H. Big Crow, administrator of the Crazy Horse estate, said the apology is the most important thing to the Sioux people. inline graphic inline graphic

“They don't have permission to take someone else's name, someone else's image, someone else's property rights,” added Big Crow, a Crazy Horse descendant. inline graphic inline graphic

Crazy Horse was an Oglala Sioux warrior who led the defeat of Lt. Col. George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876.41 inline graphic inline graphic

Read the full set of Sasha Houston Brown's comments.

Among the many other controversies surrounding the treatment of Native American imagery in the marketplace is the use of “Native American” designs and names by the retailer Urban Outfitters. Here is what the author of a Time article wrote about the situation:

Sasha Houston Brown of Minneapolis published an open letter to the company's CEO as a guest contributor on the blog Racialicious. Brown posits that the frequent use of “Navajo” to describe and market Urban Outfitters' products is offensive, and moreover, a possible violation of federal law. inline graphic inline graphic

“As a Native American woman, I am deeply distressed by your company's mass marketed collection of distasteful and racially demeaning apparel and décor,” Brown writes. “I take personal offense to the blatant racism and perverted cultural appropriation your store features this season as ‘fashion.'”42 inline graphic inline graphic

Fig. 25. Urban Outfitters' “Navajo” Collection
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Fig. 25.

Urban Outfitters' “Navajo” Collection43

View a Smithsonian Institution Symposium on Racist Stereotypes and Cultural Appropriation in American Sports.

A continuing controversy concerning the representation and appropriation of Native American culture surrounds the names and mascots of various sports teams. In 2005, the NCAA called Native American mascots “hostile and abusive.” This includes Florida State University whose team name has been the “Seminoles” since 1947. inline graphic inline graphic

A Florida State University Institutional Spot
Video 5.

A Florida State University Institutional Spot44

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The Seminole Tribal Council then gave their permission to the university to use Osceola as their mascot. In response to this official permission sanctioning Seminole imagery, the NCAA gave FSU a waiver. inline graphic inline graphic

FSU trustees and administrators maintain that the use of Seminole name, mascot, and imagery is respectful and honors the tribe. However, a number of critics have taken the position that “official sanction” does not alter the problem of stereotyping and appropriation of cultural symbols for commercial purposes. inline graphic inline graphic

Here is what the Native Appropriations blogger Adrienne K. wrote about the matter:

State has Florida been the “Seminoles” since 1947, and have had a “relationship” with the Seminole Tribe of Florida for many years, but it was solidified more recently. In 2005, the NCAA passed a resolution, calling Native American Mascots “hostile and abusive,” and prohibiting schools with these mascots from hosting post-season events. The Seminole Tribe of Florida then officially gave their permission to use Osceola as the mascot, letting FSU get a waiver from the NCAA rule. inline graphic inline graphic

Disclaimer, and a big one—I am not Seminole, and I don't want to speak for the tribe. I am offering my interpretation and perspective, but it's just mine. I am going to be up front and say that I don't agree with the choice to give the university permission to mock Native culture (see the billboard and video I posted earlier), and I don't find a “stoic” dude in a wig and redface throwing a flaming spear “honoring” (see photo above), and I definitely don't think that the “war chant” is respectful in any way. In fact I find it quite “hostile and abusive.” inline graphic inline graphic

The Florida State War Chant and Tomahawk Chop
Video 6.

The Florida State War Chant and Tomahawk Chop45

Click to view video

I do want to put the decision of the tribe into context, however. From what I understand, prior to the formalized relationship with the tribe in the 1970′s, the image of the university was not Osceola (who is a real person, in case you didn't know. Though the image is the profile of a white faculty member), but a stereotypical mis-mash named “Sammy Seminole” who was accompanied by “Chief Fullabull,” both of whom wore cartoonish and stereotypical outfits and clowned around at games. Trying to be more “sensitive” they changed “Fullabull” to “Chief Wampumstompum.” I'm not kidding. Osceola and Renegade (the horse) were introduced in the late 70′s. inline graphic inline graphic

So, by entering into a relationship with the university, the mascot now represents an actual Seminole figure, and wears (close to) traditional Seminole regalia, made by tribal members. In addition to control and “collaboration” over how the image is used and portrayed, I've heard the tribe gets a cut of the merchandising profits, which I'm sure is no small amount of money. The president of the university also established full scholarships for Seminole students (though only 8 Seminole students have graduated in the history of the school), a Seminole color guard brings in the flag at commencement, and the tribe was recently honored at homecoming. The Seminole of FL are also one of the most successful gaming tribes in the US, and my personal opinion is that keeping the state happy on the FSU front can only be good for relations around gaming contracts. inline graphic inline graphic

In summary, while the mascot is far from being respectful in my opinion, at least the tribe is gaining both economic and social benefits from engaging in this relationship. At least, at the games, as the student section is tomahawk chopping and yelling “scalp ‘em”, they can look down at the field and see a real Seminole every once and awhile to counter the image of Osceola. But is it perfect? Of course not. In a lot of ways it is similar to Derrick Bell's theory of Interest Convergence–the idea that whites will only consent to racial progress when it benefits them directly–but turned around. The tribe is consenting to this, because they benefit directly. The interests of the two parties converge.46 inline graphic inline graphic

12. Public Service Announcements

In addition to commercial advertisements, Native Americans appear in public service announcements designed to urge the public to take some sort of action. Some of these PSAs are directed at general audience, whereas others are specifically oriented to Native American viewers. inline graphic inline graphic

Read more about the “Crying Indian” in the ADText unit on PSA's.

The famous “Crying Indian” public service announcement from 1971 (and reprised in 1998) uses a Native American character to discuss environmental pollution. The Indian is presented as a thoughtful steward of the land. The implication is that everyone else (the us/them dichotomy once again) is a polluter and careless about the environment. The spot, made famous by the single tear the Indian sheds as he mourns the loss of his “pristine” native environment, is considered one of the most memorable in 20th-century American advertising. inline graphic inline graphic

The “Crying Indian” Commercial First Appeared in 1971
Video 7.

The “Crying Indian” Commercial First Appeared in 197147

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PSAs directed through specialized media to Native American audiences concern issues of special concern in reservation societies. As the following spot shows, a high suicide rate is one such concern. inline graphic inline graphic

A PSA Directed to Young Native Americans
Video 8.

A PSA Directed to Young Native Americans 48

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Other PSAs (such as the ones for the Native American College Fund) present Native Americans in a non-stereotypical manner by showing their differences in the context of their being Americans and sharing many similar values to the larger culture. inline graphic inline graphic

The Native American College Fund PSA Presents a Different View of Native Americans
Video 9.

The Native American College Fund PSA Presents a Different View of Native Americans49

Click to view video

13. Native Americans as a Niche Market

Visit the websites of advertising agencies that deal specifically with the Native American market, here and here.

When marketers and advertisers identify a racial or ethnic category of consumers in America with sufficient numbers to warrant the economic costs of differential treatment, such categories tend to be spoken of as niche markets. This means that their distinctiveness from the larger population will be reflected in the advertising appeals and marketing strategies. Some of the usual niche markets attended to today are African Americans, Latino/Latinas, and LGBT. The Native American market is emerging as one such market which means in practice that advertisers/marketers will pay attention to their different cultures and interests, design campaigns directed specifically to them, and above all else make great efforts to treat their cultures and traditions with sensitivity. inline graphic inline graphic

14. Conclusion

Native Americans, like many racial and ethnic categories in American society, have a complex history in the world of advertising. Today, most advertisers and advertising agencies are hypersensitive to issues of cultural diversity and take great care to treat race and ethnicity with sensitivity. inline graphic inline graphic

Although some other categories finder greater play in and more positive representations of their cultures within contemporary advertising (such as African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians), it is important to note that others that appear much less frequently (Native Americans, South Indians, and Arabs, for example) are treated much more respectfully than they had been in the past. inline graphic inline graphic

The driving force in all of this is not so much social justice but the recognition that it is simply good business practice to adopt an inclusive approach that treats all segments of society as potential customers and consumers of the brands and products promoted in ads. inline graphic inline graphic

William M. O'Barr

William M. O'Barr is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University where he has taught since 1969. He holds secondary appointments in the Departments of Sociology and English. He has been a visiting professor at Northwestern, Dalhousie, and Oxford. He has been recognized for his outstanding undergraduate teaching by both the Duke University Alumni Association and Trinity College (Duke University). His course Advertising and Society: Global Perspectives is one of Duke's most popular undergraduate courses. His seminars include Advertising and Masculinity, Children and Advertising, and The Language of Advertising.

He is author and co-author of ten books, including Culture and the Ad: Exploring Otherness in the World of Advertising, Rules versus Relationships, and Just Words: Law, Language, and Power. He has conducted anthropological research in Brazil, China, East Africa, India, Japan, and the US. In addition to his interest in social and cultural aspects of advertising, Professor O'Barr has researched law in a variety of cultural settings.

In 2000, he founded Advertising & Society Review and served as editor from 2000 to 2005. He is author of ADTextOnline.org, which will consist of more than 25 units published as supplements to A&SR.


1. From the author's collection.

2. “Chief Heckawi a modern version of storefront figures which lost favour circa 1900. This Chief advertises outside his traditional shop in Windsor, UK,” Wikipedia Commons, uploaded by user “WrydLight.com,” October 21, 2006, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cigar_store_Indian.

3. William J. Todd, “Cigar Store Indian Started in England,” The Milwaukee Journal, March 17, 1968, http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=JUcaAAAAIBAJ&sjid=ASgEAAAAIBAJ&dq=cigar-store-indian&pg=3335%2C2154383.

4. From the author's collection.

5. “‘American Indian Chiefs' Album - (1888),” Flickr, uploaded by user “mando maniac,” September 28, 2009, http://www.flickr.com/photos/mando_gal/3964208986.

6. Victoria E. Sanchez, “Buying into Racism: American Indian Product Icons in the American Marketplace,” in American Indians and the Mass Media, ed. Meta G. Carstarphen and John P. Sanchez (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012), 153–168. See also Philip J. Deloria, Playing Indian (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999).

7. “Eskimo Pie,” Mayhem Photoblog, posted by “Mayhem,” March 18, 2004, http://mayhem-chaos.net/photoblog/archives/000519.html.

8. “Native Americans in Cigar Label Advertising,” Cigar Box Label Blog, posted by “Enthusiastic on Cigar Box Labels,” April 5, 2010, http://cigarlabelblog.wordpress.com/2010/04/05/native-americans-in-cigar-label-advertising/.

9. “Hawaiian Airlines Orders Five More Airbus A330-200s,” Airlines and Destinations, posted November 17, 2011, http://www.airlinesanddestinations.com/airlines/hawaiian-airlines-orders-five-more-airbus-a330-200s/.

10. In line with the practice of many scholars, the term Native American in this unit refers to the indigenous peoples of the continental United States, Alaska, and Hawaii. By contrast, American Indian refers to the fabricated constructions of Native Americans in literature, film, advertising, branding, and other form of popular culture. See, for example, Sanchez.

12. The Online Etymology Dictionary provides this origin of the word maize: “1550s, from Cuban Spanish maiz, from Arawakan (Haiti) mahiz. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=maize.

13. “1976 Mazola Margarine ‘We Call It Maize' Commercial,” YouTube video, uploaded by “Genius7277,” June 4, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuOlD0JZhM4.

14. “Land O'Lakes Spreadable Butter Commercial,” YouTube video, uploaded by “CommercialsGroup,” May 7, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzs4MGFQYIU.

15. “The Indian Maiden,” YouTube video, uploaded by “BossmanMcGee,” October 12, 2011, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKWO3an56Ik.

16. From the author's collection.

17. Catherine Yronwode, “Money House Blessing Spray,” Hoodoo in Theory and Practice, http://www.luckymojo.com/moneyhouse.html

18. “I think my baking powder might be racist...,” Vanilla Garlic Blog, posted by Garrett McCord, March 1, 2009, http://www.vanillagarlic.com/2009/03/i-think-my-baking-powder-might-be.html.

19. From the author's collection.

20. There are over 800 known indigenous languages in North America. See http://www.native-languages.org/ for more information.

21. “#33 Pocahontas Series of 192 More Variation SGC 84,” RGold Collection— Goudey Indian Gum, http://imageevent.com/rgold/rgoldcollectiongoudeyindiangum.

22. “Squaw Brand Advertising Food Label,” Gator Trading Antiques, http://pages.gatortradingantiques.com/102/PictPage/1922314590.html.

23. See Video 7 below.

24. Deloria, Playing Indian, 4.

25. “1970 American Indian Savage Lever Action Rifle 2pg Ad,” eBay listing, posted by “magicelectron,” http://www.ebay.com/itm/1970-American-Indian-Savage-Lever-Action-Rifle-2pg-Ad-/270960312121?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f167e3f39.

26. From the author's collection.

27. “1945 Ad Naturalizer Shoe Beautiful Fit Wrap Arounds Blin Art The Squaw & Papoose,” eBay listing, posted by “drulls,” http://www.ebay.com/itm/1945-Ad-Naturalizer-Shoe-Beautiful-Fit-Wrap-Arounds-Blin-Art-The-Squaw-Papoose-/200888120891?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ec5dd763b.

28. “Kimberly Clark Ad 1938 Indian Woman Weaver,” eBay listing, page no longer available.

29. “1951 Vintage Ad: Post Toasties Corn Flakes Cereal Native American Indian Theme,” eBay listing, posted by “brogsy,”http://www.ebay.com/itm/1951-Vintage-Ad-Post-Toasties-Corn-Flakes-Cereal-Native-American-Indian-Theme-/130852964988

30. “Smoke Signals illustration of pretty Indian squaw 1953 Edwards Paging Print Ad,” eBay listing, posted by “vintagealliance,” http://www.ebay.com/itm/Smoke-Signals-illustration-of-pretty-Indian-squaw-1953-Edwards-Paging-Print-Ad-/120943973622.

31. Stephanie Molholt defines Plains Indians as “the indigenous people who lived in and continue to live in the Great Plains region of the United States, which includes parts of Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico.” Stephanie Molholt, A Buck Well Spent: Representations of American Indians in Print Advertising Since 1890. Ph.D. dissertation, Arizona State University, 2008, 68–9.

32. Ibid, 86–100.

33. “BUCKSKIN KID SHOOTING FROG IN 1947 GENERAL MOTORS AD,” eBay listing, posted by “woods_elf,” http://www.ebay.com/itm/BUCKSKIN-KID-SHOOTING-FROG-IN-1947-GENERAL-MOTORS-AD-/200896096984.

34. Nicole Daniels, “Pi Kapp Party Fuels Anger,” The Chronicle, December 5, 2011, http://www.dukechronicle.com/articles/2011/12/05/pi-kapp-party-fuels-anger/print.

35. “1950 Springmaid old REPRODUCTION AD. Indian theme Buck 2 On Line era stereotype,” eBay listing, posted by “jrent,” http://www.ebay.com/itm/1950-Springmaidold-REPRODUCTION-AD-Indian-theme-Buck-2-On-Line-era-stereotype-/370717682595

36. “Springmaid Fabrics, You So Naughty!” The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit Blog, posted by Chris Holmes, February 25, 2013, http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/blog/sexy-vintage-springmaid-fabrics-advertisements.

37. “Victoria's Secret Lingerie 2012 Fashion Show,” Hollywood Reporter, posted by Elizabeth Snead and Chris Godley, November 8, 2012. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/victorias-secret-lingerie-2012-fashion-387948

38. “Guess We Can Add Victoria's Secret to the List,” Native Appropriations Blog, posted by Adrienne K., November 9, 2012, http://nativeappropriations.com/2012/11/guess-we-can-add-victorias-secret-to-the-list.html.

39. Ruth Hopkins, “Victoria's Secret is Asking to Be Boycotted,” Indian Country Today Media Network, November 15, 2012, http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/opinion/victorias-secret-asking-be-boycotted-145690.

40. “‘Crazy Horse' beer connection false and misleading,” Press release, Robert Gough, Attorney for the Estate of Tasunke Witko (Crazy Horse), December 2, 1995, http://www.moccasinbend.net/cita/chml.html.

41. Dennis Gale, “Crazy Horse Malt Liquor Apologizes,” The Associated Press, April 27, 2001, http://www.moccasinbend.net/cita/chml.html.

42. Allison Berry, “Urban Outfitters Taken to Task for Faux ‘Navajo' Products,” October 12, 2011, http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/10/12/urban-outfitters-taken-to-task-for-faux-navajo-products/#ixzz2PsIuQfnK.

43. Urban Outfitters, republished on “Urban Outfitters Removes 24 Products Labeled ‘Navajo',” Campus Progress Blog, posted by Dahlia Grossman-Heinze, October 27, 2011, http://campusprogress.org/articles/urban_outfitters_removes_24_products_labeled_navajo/.

44. “Spirit of Florida State,” YouTube Video, uploaded by “FloridaState,“ September 22, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tn2BVM_U6Cs.

45. “FLORIDA STATE WAR CHANT STUDENT SECTION,” YouTube video, uploaded by “JSM1TH3RS,” March 11, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3t1SXmCqqV8.

46. “Interest Convergence, FSU, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” Native Appropriations Blog, posted by Adrienne K., January 22, 2013, http://nativeappropriations.com/2013/01/interest-convergence-fsu-and-the-seminole-tribe-of-florida.html.

47. Courtesy Keep America Beautiful.

48. “Native Cry PSA 60 sec,” Vimeo video, uploaded by Daniel Golding, February 5, 2013, http://vimeo.com/58990655.

49. “Help a Student Help a Tribe,” YouTube video, uploaded by “TheCollegeFund,” January 12, 2012, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8V105vUXKs0.

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