February 20, 2011

Native Threads accused of Nazism

Recently I received an e-mail from Randy Bardwell, president of Native Threads, about an art-design controversy. Bardwell explained it on his Facebook page:Native Threads is being accused as racist because the winning art contest design [left] "looks similar" to a Nazi emblem [right]! Please educate the accuser on how the Eagle, the Feather and the four directions symbol are sacred to you! Don't let these bullies paint us as racist!

The e-mails leading to this controversy:From: pdb
Sent: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 12:29 PM
To: info@nativethreads.com
Subject: hate symbol

The art winner for December 2010 is an image that has been associated world wide with RACISM and HATE since before the 1930s.

First the NAZIs, now us??

Please answer and let me know why this image was selected to show native pride. Right now all I feel is ashamed. See links of the Nazi Eagle with Swastika.

Tell me just how similar they are!





From: info@nativethreads.com
To: pdb
Subject: RE: hate symbol
Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 14:51:44 -0800

Thank you for your email.

The image was selected by vote by over 1200 Native Threads fans, customers and supporters, most of whom are Native Americans and Aboriginal Canadians. The image is not chosen by Native Threads staff.

In regards to the swastika comparison please find the following text from the following website...http://www.shannonthunderbird.com/symbols_and_meanings.htm

"Before it was evil, it was good, and it is the oldest cross/symbol/emblem in the world. The image can be found throughout Native history. The postcard shown above states: "May the four winds from the four corners of the heavens upon you gently blow." It is also not exactly the same symbol that Hitler and his Nazi Party used. Upon closer inspection, the true symbol is actually a reverse of the counterclockwise Nazi version. Sadly, what was a beautiful symbol that represented peace and the natural order of things (sun, winds, four directions) has been perverted for all time by one evil individual and a terrible time in human history."

Our Morningstar design which is represented in Mr. Valle's art entry can be viewed here...http://store.nativethreads.com/Mens-Morning-Star-T-Shirt-Royal-P45C2.aspx#

Hope this helps,

NT Staff


From: pdb
Sent: Friday, January 21, 2011 1:52 PM
To: info@nativethreads.com
Subject: RE: hate symbol


Whoever CHOSE it, it is being PRODUCED by Native Threads.

You sent a picture (morning star) that has ZERO to do with what I am referring to.

Yes, I know the symbol is ancient, and pre-dates Jesus Christ. I am pointing out the remarkable, noticeable, (knock-off?) similarities between the "artwork" chosen as a winner and the Nazi Party symbol. The WHOLE picture, not just the swastika.

I wonder if you are being intentionally dense? Since I credit you with empathy and intelligence, I will say that you were just too busy to LOOK at the provided links. Please take the time to check these images out.

The Third Reich in the 20th century was the largest public act of GENOCIDE. As a culture of peoples who experienced the same by those who wanted to eradicate us, I would think that some common decency, if not affinity, would prohibit the use of your winners' "art."

I am not talking of the swastika--in this "art," it has been replaced by the medicine wheel. That I find a different kind of sick!

I am speaking to the WHOLE DESIGN. The eagles spread wings, the circle clenched in his claws, the symbol inside the circle representing a SPECIFIC RACE, even the "wind" surrounding the eagle was done using boughs and design in the earlier versions of this "art."

Take the time to view the slideshow now, please. Were you able to pick out your winner?


From: rbardwell@nativethreads.com
To: pdb
Subject: RE: hate symbol
Date: Sun, 23 Jan 2011 08:51:58 -0800

Thanks for your email regarding our latest art contest winner. It was very enlightening to read how passionate you are about history.

We agree with you that this design shares some of the same elements. However, our agreement ends there.

Mr. Valle's artwork does not represent hate or racism, it represents on many levels what are meaningful to Native culture. Our Morningstar represents the four directions, the eagle represents purity and the feathers represent spirit.

Sure, you can draw conclusions about many things and paint them evil as much as you want, however we will not allow ourselves to stoop to that level and pervert our people's artwork with a Nazi slant. It's up to you how you choose to see this artwork. We don't care to change your mind about it or for you to continue to point out how you see it.

We have provided a forum for Native artists to get exposure, opportunity and positive feedback from our Native Threads community of customers. We have overwhelming support from Indian Country on this project and we will continue to run the contest as is and allow all artists a fair chance at growing their art career.

Thanks again for your passionate feedback and we wish you well,

Randy Bardwell
Native Threads


From: pdb
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 11:29 PM
To: rbardwell@nativethreads.com
Subject: RE: hate symbol

Mr. Bardwell

It is nice to see a name attached to the reply given to address my concern. The stand you take is great for your company, the artists, and irresponsibility.

It is not MY opinion, MY view, nor MY slant.

It is what it is. Simply deciding a symbol stands for one thing does not mean it doesn't represent quite another--and has for eight decades--to over a million people in your country alone. Literally millions of holocaust survivors and their descendants see the same hate.

Does that not mean anything to you?

Talk about turning a blind eye.

I am sadly disappointed.

You have heard the last from me personally, Mr. Bardwell. Your lack of concern was very clear. Though you can be sure you have not heard the last on this issue.

Take care.
Comment:  I can see both sides in this debate. Yes, I think the designs are vaguely similar. And I'm not overly impressed with the winning design. But I don't think the designs are close enough that the winner screams "Nazism." And I certainly don't think artist Phil Valle or Native Threads is trying to send a subliminal pro-Nazi message.

I guess I agree with the commenter who wrote:I can see the similarities, but I would not expect the meaning to be the same. In truth I would not have connected them if you had not posted this picture. I would not worry about it if that was not your intention.Another point is that PDB's response seems like a gross overreaction to what was undoubtedly a coincidence. It might warrant a passing comment, but not a full-blown assault. PDB should've asked Native Threads about the design first rather than assuming it was a Nazi hate symbol.

For more on the subject, see Nazis Tried to Subvert Indians and Reclaiming the Swastika.


Unknown said...

hmmm, in Korea the swastika is evident everywhere on buddhist temples, at first (when living there) it is a shock but one soon gets used to it and understands that the original meaning has nothing to do with Nazism. I know the complaint was about the overall image but, imo, it shows how one cannot assume their own experience translates or is relevant to everybody else.

Anonymous said...

Maybe they shouldn't have used the Gothic font.

Anonymous said...

Lol at anonymous. Either way seems like quite the coincidence. And I have to say that it's all a matter of perspective.

Anonymous said...

by that rationale the insignia for the rank of colonel in the US military (captain in the Navy/Coast Guard) is a Nazi symbol.

wiki entry with picture http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colonel_(United_States)

Dude is seriously deluded if he thinks the winning design has anything whatsoever, overtly or covertly, intended or unintended to do with Nazism/Fascism.

Choice- shoshone-bannock said...

All the exchanged info, no matter which side your on, IS AN OPINION. the proof? The fact that "x" amount of people who voted did not see what you saw and in fact saw the points of pride that were mentioned. If we wanted to look at mixed or lost meanings why not speak of "Thanksgiving" or "easter" or my personal favorite "Christmas". All of which can be represented, IN MY OPINION, by shopping ads. "Thanksgiving" (which i wont dive into extensively for obvious reasons) is just a marker for the now widely anticipated "black Friday" (oh wait its green Friday) where "Thanksgiving" is celebrated by frenzies at walk mart. In addition to the previous sentence i would like to point out the change from "black" to "green" friday due to sensitivity...... but columbus day is ok?? The point, you might ask. ITS ALL JUST AN OPINION Brothers & Sisters haha stop fretting and enjoy life.
Many blessing to all
Props native threads see on the pw trail.
(Yes all

Anonymous said...

Really? He's going to spout off to Native Americans about genocide and acts of Evil? Has he checked his history on Andrew Jackson?

Anonymous said...

Since native Americans are the jews of this country, I think it's only fitting that other people view our sacred symbols as catalysts of hate. The majority of Americans in this country still refuse to recognize our genocide and if items like this open up opportunities to inform the blind, kudos to you!! Stay strong brothers, for only ignorant people mock that which they don't understand.

Unknown said...

The swastika symbol or whirling log represents the path of the migrations of the Hopi clans.
The center of the cross represents Tuwanasavi or the Center of the Universe which lay in what is now the Hopi country in the southwestern part of the US. Tuwanasavi was not the geographic center of North America, but the magnetic or spiritual center formed by the junction of the North-South and the East-West axws along which the Twins sent their vibratory messages and controlled the rotation of the planet.

Three directions (pasos) for most of the clans were the same: the ice locked back door to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.

Only 7 clans-the Bear, Eagle, Sun, Kachina, Parrot, Flute and Coyote clans-migrated to South America to the southern paso at it's tip. The rest of some 40 clans, having started from somewhere in southern Mexico or Central America, regarded this as their southern paso, their migration thus forming a balanced symbol.

Upon arriving at each paso all the leading clans turned right before retracing their routes.

.. and they say ignorance is bliss, welcome to our home and Native Land...

Rob said...

I think PDB is a woman, not a man.

She's not disputing the ancient origins of the swastika. She's saying the whole design--an eagle perched on a circular emblem with a four-armed symbol--is Nazi-like. As I said, I see the resemblance, though I wouldn't have criticized it for that reason.

Anonymous said...

Love to have the winning design on a jacket or something to that effect.

Anonymous said...

When I look at the winner I see art done with pride and representing many good things. If you want to compare something I'd suggest you take a look at the Nazi emblem along side The Great Seal of the United States.