February 22, 2011

Southwest Indians renounced swastika

In Honoring Indians with Swastikas, I noted how Indians and non-Indians used swastikas in the early 20th century. You can imagine why both groups stopped using them, but here's a particular act I hadn't heard of before:

Western use of the swastika in the early 20th centuryShortly after the beginning of World War II, several Native American tribes (the Navajo, Apache, Tohono O'odham, and Hopi) published a decree stating that they would no longer use the swastika in their artwork. This was because the swastika had come to symbolize evil to the tourists who purchased their crafts. This decree was signed by representatives of these tribes. The decree states:Because the above ornament which has been a symbol of friendship among our forefathers for many centuries has been desecrated recently by another nation of peoples.

Therefore it is resolved that henceforth from this date on and forever more our tribes renounce the use of the emblem commonly known today as the swastika or fylfot on our blankets, baskets, art objects, sandpainting, and clothing.
Comment:  As with their exemplary record of military service, this act shows the Indians' patriotic love of America. Compare this with, say, Southern whites who embrace the Confederate flag or any whites who embrace a stereotypical Indian mascot.

These symbols have more negative implications than the Indians' swastika, which didn't have any negative implications until Hitler appropriated it. Yet the whites are much less willing to give up their cherished symbols. Which people are thinking of the greater good and which people are thinking only about themselves?

For more on the subject, see Native Threads Accused of Nazism and Reclaiming the Swastika.

Below:  "Group of Dineh Artists Renouncing Use of the Swastika," c. February 28, 1940.

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