Businesses must be native-owned; operate to high standards
By Mark Hume
A new seal was unveiled at a news conference Monday that is being awarded to native-run enterprises that pass a rigorous screening by the Aboriginal Tourism Association of B.C. Native leaders say the logo, which features the words “Authentic Aboriginal” framed by an eagle feather and human eye motif, will promote quality control and allow consumers to easily identify genuine native products.
The seal can be granted only to native owned and operated businesses, so it would not have headed off the controversy that emerged last week when VANOC was criticized by a Squamish Nation artist for selling aboriginal items, such as T-shirts and baseball caps, that were printed outside Canada. The Four Host First Nations have dismissed the criticism of VANOC as unwarranted because all the art was done by natives, although the mass reproduction of some items was done by non-native businesses.
The same issue crops up in Native art throughout the US, especially in the Southwest. For instance, if a Navajo carves a katsina (kachina) based on a Hopi design, is it an authentic Hopi katsina? Most Hopi carvers and Indian art dealers would say no, but the Olympics Host Nations apparently would say yes.
For more on Native tourism, see Aboriginal Tourism in British Columbia and Nine Native Cultural Centers to Visit.