Archives For random appropriation

redskins candy1

Reader Michelle submitted this example today–apparently Nestle Australia sells a raspberry flavored candy called “redsk*ns”.

According to all-knowing Wikipedia,

“In 1996, a complaint was made to the New Zealand Advertising Standards Complaints Board about a Redskins advertisement aired on New Zealand television. The advertisement featured comedian Mark Wright dressed in American Indian clothing and assuming an accent. A mock drumbeat featured on the soundtrack. Despite protest from Nestlé New Zealand that the advertisement was inoffensive, the Board upheld the complaint.[1]

Redskin packaging formerly featured a photo of a Native American wearing a traditional headdress. This was replaced in the late 1990s by a more neutral red character.”

Here’s one of the earlier packages, sorry for the quality:


Prettttty clear this was meant to reference Natives.

But when Michelle confronted the company on Twitter about their continued use of the name (albeit without the imagery)?

nestle australia tweets

I’ll type that out for you (asterisk mine): “RED SK*NS are raspberry flavoured. Raspberries are red. Hence the name. They are made to be enjoyed by all races. :)” Riiiiight. Say it with me: revisionist history.

Others have caught this before me, Rob at Newspaper Rock/Bluecorn Comics and Different Together has a post from 2012 on the candy too.

Interesting to note: If Nestle applied for the trademark on the candy today in the US, they would be denied, even if they were only referencing the color of raspberries. Progress?

If you feel like contacting Nestle, you can tweet at them @Nestle or @Nestlecares, or hit them up on their contact form here.

(Thanks Michelle!)

Random appropriations are meant to point out how stereotypical imagery of Natives is ubiquitous in the world around us. Some of these may not be the *most* offensive thing in the world, but the point is to see how these small, seemingly random products, advertising, and images add up to create the harmful stereotypes of Native peoples we know today. See all the previous Random Appropriations of the Day here.


Florida State University (home of the “Seminoles”) has unveiled a new billboard for their MBA program. I always wonder how these types of things make it through so many layers of approval. Kirsten who sent it over said this has been their slogan for awhile, apparently. While we’re at it, have you seen the new commercial made by students in FSU’s College of Motion Picture Arts?:

Yeah. “A spirit roams these parts…a spirit of respect.” Respect for who, exactly? 

Programming note: I’m going to be trying something a bit new (or old, if you’re a long-time reader of the blog) where I share a lot of these “random appropriations” in between longer blog posts. I’m not going to go through and deconstruct all of them, it’s more to share the ubiquity of these images and how pervasive they are in our society. But I always welcome conversation in the comments!

(Thanks to Kirstin for the image, and everyone who sent me the commercial!)


Last night on Chelsea Lately, Chelsea Handler sported what appears to be a shirt with a big ol’ warbonnet on it. Chances are, it’s not from a Native designer–if it is, by all means correct me, and this becomes a very different post–but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not the worst, and she’s not wearing the headdress, unlike some of our other celebrity friends, but of course, it still makes me sigh.

I’m wondering if this stuff is becoming so mainstream that I’m losing sensitivity to it–cause two years ago I probably would have been livid over this. Or maybe I’m just becoming a crotchety, jaded old who can’t get as riled up anymore (ok, who am I kidding?). 

I guess this would be categorized as a “Random Appropriation of the Day” (I haven’t done one of those in forever!)…


Drew Barrymore Sports a Hipster Headdress and a Budwiser Apron. Really.

Hey Kardashians: why you so obsessed with me?

(Thanks Lanova!)

Chief Merman Christmas Ornament from December Diamonds is a traditional tribal chief that leads a tribe.”

He must be the “traditional tribal chief” of one of those NW coast tribes. They really like their salmon. Ayyye.

Yeah, I have no idea. Luckily this guy is only $23.95, much unlike our lovely $7000 “Pueblo Clown Goes to Sturgis” from last week.

Happy Friday!

Diamonds of the Sea: Chief Merman Ornament

(Thanks Maren!)

MerMAN (cough, cough). MerMAN.

What do you get when you combine a ken doll, some sharpies, maybe a little tempra paint, a small dancing mud kachina that looks like a bear, and an intricately carved to scale wooden three wheeled motorcycle?

This, apparently.

Thank my dad for this one–he was driving through Vista, CA on his way home from jury duty and spotted “The Indian Store,” a behemoth of a building that he’d never come across in 25+ years of living in San Diego. He got home and googled, and of course, this would be the representative image he chose to send me. I mean, how can you pass this up?

If you’re interested in purchasing this here piece that I’ve named “Pueblo Clown Goes to Sturgis”, it can be yours for the low, low price of $7000. I’m not kidding. Does it have to be mentioned the artist is non-Native? Cause he is. Duh. The site also shows him carving a “Native American style totem pole.” Awesome.

Or, you can send me $7000 and I’ll go to Target, buy the aforementioned ingredients, substitute the carved wooden trike for a plastic action figure one, and you get an “authentic Indian craft!”

Questions I have in viewing this piece:
- Is he wearing an eyepatch?
- Does he have sharpie 5′oclock shadow?
- Is he wearing a chocolate old-fashioned donut on his head?
- Is he scratching his behind?
- Why doesn’t his friend sit down in the comfortable-looking back seat? Isn’t dancing on a moving vehicle dangerous?

All joking and WTF-ing aside, this guy is making “art” pieces that include sacred pueblo kachinas, and is making a mess of them. Talk about appropriation and mis-representation. Not cool.

But if you’d like to support a real Indian artist and place an order for my version of “Painted Ken Goes to Sturgis”–let me know in the comments. ha.

(Thanks Dad!)

It’s been a few months since I posted a “Random Appropriation of the Day”–things that use Native imagery/names/references that are just totally random and don’t necessarily necessitate (necessarily necessitate? ha. I’m leaving it.) an entire wordy post. These “Random Appropriations” are simply to point out how ubiquitous the use of Native imagery is in our everyday lives, and to question products that we might not even pause and think about. So, a weird one for today:

Product description:
Pow Wow Lip Scrub – 3474 – Vegan – 20g – £4.75
Popping candy to polish your pout this Christmas!
Helen’s been trying to figure out a way to use popping candy in more of our inventions – and why not, it’s such good fun! So here it is: a delicious, bright green popping candy lip scrub. Scrub and buff your lips this winter with our exfoliating spinach powder, goji berry and caffeine powder lip buffer. It’s sure to make you as strong as Popeye and look as beautiful as Olive Oil!

Then, according to tipster Megan:

“There is also a video that briefly explains the reasoning behind the name which has since been made private, but as far as my memory serves me the gist is “pow wow is the Native American word for a gathering, and we do that a lot at Christmas’. Quite where the lip scrub comes into it I have no idea. I am at a loss at what any of this has to do with a non-existent, monolithic, Native American culture.”

It appears that the product has been taken down completely–several websites display a “product not found.” So perhaps they wised up and decided they should call it something that actually, oh, describes the product? Like “Popeye Power Lip Scrub”? (I should go work for Lush…)

Anyway, random, right?

(Thanks Megan!) 

Just a quick post for today, check out the tipi in the storefront of JCrew out here on the East Coast. We love to encourage “playing Indian“, right?

I’m still pulling together a big post on the major transgressions over at Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters, but this is just a preview of what the mainstream fashion scene is doing this season. Yikes.

Baby Teepees are like, totally, in.
Hoya Hoya Cultural Appropriation! or why suburban white folks shouldn’t play Indian. 

(Thanks Tiffanie!)

I’m currently in NorCal (I was presenting at the NAISA conference in Sacramento–our Native Bloggers panel went really well, thanks for all your help!). I went to get a quick lunch in Palo Alto before I headed to the airport, and spotted this sign as I was walking down University Ave. Notice anything weird?

The local Lululemon store has a running club–cool. But today, Palo Alto High School (our favorite!) is hosting an Indian Run.

So what’s an “Indian Run,” you ask? It’s a conditioning exercise, where a group of runners jog single file at a steady pace, and then the last runner in line must sprint to the front of the line, taking the place of the first runner, and so on. There are videos on youtube if you need a visual.

My bootcamp class I took in San Francisco used to do these too, but my group graciously decided to rename them “last man sprints” when I pointed out how ridiculous the name was.

The internet has no consensus on the origins of the term, and I can’t really find anything about the exercise other than how it’s done, but I still find it kinda stupid. It has nothing to do with Indians. I think this one is a term that needs to be retired, much like sitting “Indian style” (just call it cross-legged!).

I like the addendum at the end of the Urban Dictionary definition of “Indian Run:”

1. Indian run

An Indian run is when a team (soccer, football, baseball, etc.) joggs in a single file line around a playing field field. It begins when the last person in line sprints to the front. When that person gets there, the next person at the end of the line sprints to the front of the line. This continues as the line jogs around the field. Very tiring.

Not sure if this is a racist term.

Yeah, pretty sure since it has no discernible origins in anything actually Native, we can deduce it’s based off of some stereotype, and therefore fairly racist.

This “Teepee” for your pets has been making the rounds on all sorts of design blogs on the internet in the last week or so. So random. And it’s cardboard, not exactly a plush hangout for your “fluffy little critter”. The description reads:

This Tipi, entirely made of recycled corrugated cardboard, distinguishes itself through its innovative design inspired by a classic symbol of Canadian iconography, The Amerindian culture and the collective imagination associated with it.

Which is actually kinda interesting. Note they used the correct spelling in the description, but not in the title, and the phrase “collective imagination,” which could be interpreted that they realize that the stereotype this tipi represents is not necessarily a true depiction of Native culture…but that might be giving them more credit than they deserve.

Here it is without cats:

And the website:

(Thanks Annie, Stacy, Sarah, Dianna, and Veronica!)

Reader Michaela spotted this one while christmas shopping online. Called the “Tiger Lily Teapot”, she sports the awesome stereotypes of braids, a headband, a feather, and “indian” designs and colors. The description (via Fred Flare) reads:

This darling lil’ lady is outfitted with a small interior metal steeper and her head becomes the tea cup when you remove her feathered top! Bold colors and a happy face will brighten your kitchen even on the coldest day.

yeah. you drink out of her head:

I’d call that a bit de-humanizing.

Fred Flare: Tiger Lily Teapot

Random Appropriation of the Day (Totem Cups)

(Thanks Michaela!)