October 16, 2009

"Drunk Indian" t-shirts aren't stereotypical?

Humorous souvenirs to some, offensive stereotypes to others

By Carol Berry“My Indian name is Runs with Beer,” one T-shirt proclaims from its display shelf in a store on Denver’s main downtown mall. “My Indian name is Crawls While Drunk,” announces another.

Both are of the kind of stereotype-reinforcing products also seen in nearby Boulder, Estes Park, and likely other Colorado communities, whether as part of the tourism trade or as everyday merchandise.

Far from being concerned about offending anyone, some store employees seem perplexed that there is an “issue.”

“We’ve had some complaints, but only from Native Americans,” said an assistant store manager in Denver, who added that people “don’t even notice it unless they’re Native American.”

Casey Asimus, 22, stressed that she was not speaking for her employer, Where the Buffalo Roam, a store on the city’s 16th Street Mall that sells a variety of T-shirts and city and state souvenirs.

“I don’t think it perpetuates stereotypes,” she said, but appeared shocked at the hypothetical notion of selling a T-shirt depicting another, larger minority group in an unflattering light. “We wouldn’t do that. I don’t think it’s along the same vein--we don’t think this goes back on them (Native Americans).”

Asimus feels she is knowledgeable about the Native point of view because she has studied American history. She said she has Navajo, Sioux and Cherokee ancestry, although she is not enrolled.
Comment:  You can add me to the list of non-Indians who have protested these t-shirts.

So Asimus thinks she's knowledgeable about the Native POV? And she thinks "drunk Indian" t-shirts don't perpetuate stereotypes? I'd love to hear the "reasoning" behind her claim. And the evidence that she's knowledgeable about the Native POV.

More people complained when a similar incident happened in Duluth. Is the Native POV different in Duluth and Denver? Or does Asimus not know what the hell she's talking about?

For more on the subject, see Duluth Store Owner Apologizes and Duluth Shop Sells "Drunk Indian" T-Shirts.

Below:  "Donna Blue Bird (right), and her two daughters Jamie, left, and Winona Blue Bird bought these T-shirts today from the I Love Duluth store in Canal Park." (Bob King)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bahahahaha! Those shirts are awesome! What's the name of that store again?