August 06, 2009

Duluth store owner apologizes

Canal Park merchant apologizes over T-shirt controversy

By Sarah HornerOne day after angrily calling out a retail shop in Canal Park for selling T-shirts offensive to American Indians, Donna Blue Bird, an American Indian woman from Duluth, was shaking hands with the store’s owner.

The gesture came after Simon Shakad, owner of “I Love Duluth,” agreed Thursday to issue an apology to Blue Bird and all American Indians for selling the shirts in his store. The shop carries tourist merchandise as well as various “joke” T-shirts.

“It was the right thing to do,” Shakad said about making the apology. “I don’t want to offend anyone.”
And:About 10 American Indians, including four from Blue Bird’s family, gathered outside his store Thursday to demand Shakad issue an apology to American Indian people. Ricky DeFoe, co-chairman of the Duluth American Indian Commission, was among them.

“When shopkeepers sell these kinds of images, it perpetuates racism. … Our people are doctors, lawyers, all kinds of things,” DeFoe said. “The myth that American Indians are drunks is a lie. You have free speech, but how far should that go? No one should make a profit off lies and offending people. We deserve an apology.”

Shakad agreed last week to stop carrying the shirts after his shop was visited by Duluth Human Rights Officer Bob Grytdahl, but only after the last had been sold off the clearance rack. Blue Bird bought two of the shirts Wednesday after spotting them on a rack outside the store. Shakad said the last were gone by Wednesday evening.
Comment:  Unlike the previous store-owner offender, Shakad seems oblivious to why the shirts might offend someone. At least he did the right thing by apologizing.

For more racism against Indians, see Pizza Worker Calls Indian "Jackass," Money Talks in Rapid City, and Buchanan's Intellectual Dishonesty.

Below:  "Simon Shakad (left), owner of the retail shop I Love Duluth, reaches an accord with Donna Blue Bird as the two work together to craft a public apology about some offensive T-shirts Shakad was selling. Shakad read the apology to the public afterward in front of the Canal Park store." (Bob King)


GENO1492 said...

Indeed, what we saw in this case, was a positive step towards maintaining reconcialatory relationships between whites and Natives of the midwest(and throughout the U.S./Canada). Sadly, there will still be "offensive" incidents reiterated and we should keep approaching them with that demand. A demand for respect for who we are as productive people today. I, myself have adopted and still practice the straight-edge lifestyle as a teen and wished that a lot of young Natives did the same(and some do).

As the article pointed out. It is a *myth* as in a fictious lie, to assumed that all indians are drinkers and drunks. Actually, this *myth* is getting really trite and outdated. Its certainly a lie at best. And besides my family members, I know of numerous indians who do not drink. That's because we're trying to show that we are not what those idiots think we are(as drunks etc). Many indians are trying to kill this racial stereotype, but unfortunately there's a small percentage who still drink.

GENO1492 said...

In the previous blog, DMarks noted that the movie "Dances with Wolves" was an "inspiration for racist jokes", like the shirts seen in these articles. Perhaps he's right. If I recall another movie that made referrences to the "Dances with" epithet, I saw another one in Steve Segalls movie "On Dangerous Ground"[?] in which a lone stereotypical drunken indian was in the bar being harrassed by dastardly inbreeds, when one of them referred to him as "Dances with Whisky".
Ironically, "Dances with Wolves" is an indian name given to a white man. So in hindsight, they're technically mocking a white man(Kevin Cosner).

Anonymous said...

How they chose to deal with this critical issue is exceptionally appropiate and professional. Not all ethnic groups deals with it in a civic manner. At least not all the time. For instance, if these shirts were aimed at mocking black folks. How do you think they deal with this? I can only assume:

1.) Riots
2.) Marches

Not that I think marches are needed in an isolated case like this. But the Indian woman involved in settling the issue, exemplified rational dialogue.

dmarks said...

And now we have moved to a stereotype of blacks.