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Urban Outfitter's 'Navajo' Problem Becomes A Legal Issue

Business  (tags: Urban Outfitters, "Navajo" merchandise line, cheap rip-off, offensive, racist, illegal, cease and desist letter, Federal Indian Arts and Crafts act of 19, Federal Trade Commission Act )

- 2837 days ago -
The Attorney General of the Navajo Nation actually wrote to Urban Outfitters months ago asking the corporation to cease and desist using its trademarks to sell clothing and accessories that have nothing to do with any actual Navajo people or designs.


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John C (75)
Wednesday October 12, 2011, 11:35 pm
Thanks for posting this Judy.
It has been a long ongoing problem where the art of native Americans has been turned into an interior decorators "motif" when they "do" a house.
It is important to understand that Native Americans feel as though their spirituality is being stolen, and made cheap by this practice.
They are so right as long as new age thought seeks to make an industry of everything that went before it instead of honoring those things and learning.

Judy C (91)
Thursday October 13, 2011, 12:41 am
Thanks John. I'm glad the Navajo aren't putting up with this.

Judith C (159)
Thursday October 13, 2011, 2:24 pm
It's culturally offensive to use designs the Navajo are not producing themselves, thanks Judy.

Past Member (0)
Friday October 14, 2011, 3:51 am
What globalisation does to native cultures is unacceptable.

Kath P (9)
Friday October 14, 2011, 4:09 am
maybe they could rename the brand "Navajo Inspired".

Judy C (91)
Friday October 14, 2011, 6:39 am
Sorry Nyack that the article dissed an artist that you like, and didn't have anything to do with the subject matter, really. Otherwise though, I think the Navajo have good reason to object to this crass merchandising.

Bella Fitzpatrick (280)
Friday October 14, 2011, 7:27 am
Well I think the answer would be, just don't but the stuff. But Who would listen ??????? Me!!!!
Thank you for sharing this

colleen p (38)
Friday October 14, 2011, 1:06 pm
i wonder when people make "tribal animal people" is an offensive act?

Carol H (229)
Friday October 14, 2011, 3:49 pm
thanks Judy, noted

Vicky Locke (3)
Saturday October 15, 2011, 10:34 am
Thanks for posting this, hope to hear/read updates. Boyoboy it takes a lot of gall to misappropriate an entire sovereign nation to try to make a buck!

Carl Nielsen (7)
Saturday October 15, 2011, 3:40 pm
As I read the article the issue is pretty simple - the Navahos have registered the word "Navaho" as a trademark with relation to several products. This is something they can defend i a court of law - its the same as if I tried to market some Jeans I made myself as Levi's, where the LEvi-Strauss Co. could tkae me to court over it.

If however the genral patterns are tradtional designs they are in the public domain (even if the original creator is known she will likely have died more than 70 years ago). Now a specific work created less than 70 years I cannot copy without permission, but I am allowed to be inspired by it and if its more than 70 years old I have the RIGHT to use it in whatever way I see fit, allthoug I still cannot market it under someone elses trademark.

So I can create a work using stuff from Navaho tradion but I cannot pass it of as being Navaho.

On the other hand others have the same access to using stuff from the traditions of my tribe - and they certainly do.


Donn M (56)
Saturday October 15, 2011, 10:09 pm
That makes sense, Carl.

Vallee R (280)
Sunday October 30, 2011, 9:48 am
That's the same as plagiarism - glad the Navajo's noted this.

Vallee R (280)
Sunday October 30, 2011, 9:49 am
Though Carl- you have a point.

Diane Stollger (40)
Sunday October 30, 2011, 10:43 am
For Native Americans it is just more of the same. Native American culture has been vilified in history books, but all is fair when it comes to making a buck. That is good old American capitalism for you.
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