Urban Outfitters 'Navajo' Line Draws Fire

Oct 18, 2011, 10:04 by R.E. Christian

Critics say Urban Outfitters, the U.S. retail chain," is under fire for branding some merchandise with the Navajo name.

The flap began on Columbus Day when Sarah Houston Brown, a member of the Santee Sioux tribe, posted a note on the Racialicious Web site about "tacky" items she had seen in the Minneapolis Urban Outfitters, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported. In an open letter to the chain's CEO, Glen Senk, she listed the "Navajo Hipster Panty, Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask, Peace Treaty Feather Necklace and Staring at Stars Skull Native Headdress T-shirt."

Brown also suggested the chain is in violation of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which bans the sale of items falsely claiming to be made by American Indians. She also pointed out that the Navajo Nation has trademarked the name Navajo.

Ed Looram, head of public relations for the chain, told the newspaper Urban Outfitters does not plan to drop its Navajo-inspired items.

"The Native American-inspired trend and specifically the term 'Navajo' have been cycling through fashion, fine art and design for the last few years," Looram wrote.

Urban Outfitters was started in Philadelphia in 1970 as "The Free People's Store" and still has its headquarters there. The chain has 140 stores in the United States, Canada and several European countries.

Source: UPI