June 17, 2015

Hobby Lobby display stereotypes Indians

Hobby Lobby Trafficking in Racist Native Images

By Amy Hornby UribeWisconsin is home to no fewer than 11 Native American tribes. A few miles west of Onalaska, in Minnesota, there are at least 12 tribes (http://www.indians.org/tribal-directory.html). In my 40 years of living primarily in the upper Midwest, I have witnessed racism towards and negative stereotypes about Native Americans. I have seen firsthand the negative effects of white privilege and the lingering effects of the European decimation of tribes across the United States. Racism is both individual and systemic; sometimes people and institutions are even unaware of their racist behaviors. Through the pictured product line, Hobby Lobby has knowingly, or (ignorantly) unknowingly contributed to the negative stereotypes about people who surely form part of their clientele.

This product display harkens back to a cowboy versus Indian mentality and indicates that interactions with Indians would be equivalent to a grand summer adventure. There are paintings of teepees, and arrows along with the message “your adventure awaits.” These images might lead one to believe that Native Americans all lived in teepees or still do, which of course, isn’t true. What’s worse, the image with the multiple arrows (bottom of photo) states, “You are our greatest adventure.” I was shocked by this phrase, as was Moses Cleveland of the Ho Chunk Nation of Black River Falls, WI who asked upon seeing my photo, “So it was an adventure to try and kill off my people and take our lands?” As a European American, I had the exact same thought, so if there is a different interpretation of this “artwork,” for those of us who grew up in pluricultural communities, I don’t see it.

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