Tuesday, July 21, 2009

'Offensive' souvenir figure pulled from store shelf in Rapid City

'Offensive' souvenir figure pulled from store shelf in Rapid City
I went into Goldiggers today to visit with the owners on this issue. Interestingly enough, the owner Cindy told me that ever since this article came out, her phone has rang off the hook with people wanting to purchase one, she said she has received over 50 calls already. However, she is telling them that they have removed the item and are no longer offering it for sale. I was actually standing right there talking with her when a couple walked in and asked if they could purchase one. She is honoring what was stated in the article on not selling the item any longer, I feel she will continue to do so.
There are also other shops in Rapid selling this statue from what I have been told. So, going to see if I can locate who they are, and pay them a visit. I am hoping to locate the distributor of this statue in order to have a discussion with them as well. Maybe we can convince them to stop manufacturing this, it’s worth a try anyway.

'Offensive' souvenir figure pulled from store shelf
By Kayla Gahagan, Journal staff | Wednesday, July 15, 2009
This novelty wine holder depicting a Native American drinking from a bottle of wine was recently removed from Gold Diggers, a Rapid City retail shop, after complaints that it was racially insensitive. (Courtesy photo)
The owners of a Rapid City souvenir shop have removed a miniature statue after Native Americans complained it was offensive.
Roger and Cindy Thompson, owners of Gold Diggers on Mount Rushmore Road, said they pulled a ceramic wine holder off shelves Thursday after receiving a complaint from a Native American woman.
The statue is of a Native American man in a headdress holding a wine bottle to his open mouth.
A picture of the statue circulated late last week, and Rapid City native Robert Cook, president of the National Indian Education Association, wrote to the city to express his disappointment.
Cook could not be reached for comment Tuesday but stated in his letter that the community has moved forward with bridging the gap between Native Americans and the rest of the community, but it falls "several steps back due to the insensitivity of some of our business owners in the community."
Cook said he was told the statue was being sold in more than one location, but the Journal could not confirm that Tuesday.
Mayor Alan Hanks responded to Cook's complaint by sending a letter to the Gold Diggers owners Friday, requesting the statue be removed because it was "in poor taste and disrespectful."
The mayor applauded the Thompsons for being so willing to correct a mistake.
"Cindy (Thompson) has been very good about this," Hanks said Tuesday. "This gal is very respectful. I sent an e-mail asking that they remove the item, and she did. Quite honestly, if anything, I'm proud of her. I'm very pleased that she showed respect.
"I wish we had more folks in the community who, when something is pointed out as being offensive, were that willing to step up and do something about it."
The owners of Gold Diggers say about 40 percent of their employees are Native American and the issue has been blown out of proportion.
"We cater to the Native American community; we admire them," said Roger Thompson. "We don't make fun of them, we employ them."
Cindy Thompson said she asked her Native American employees if they thought the statue was offensive before she put it on the shelves. She said no one disapproved.
"One said, 'No, it's really cute,'" Cindy said, and another added, "No, it's 2009."
The couple issued a written apology to the woman and said they didn't realize the wine holder would offend anyone.
Gold Diggers manager Jackie White said the holder was included in a pallet of several wine holders of the same design, which also featured cowboys, antlers, bears, moose, raccoons and horses.
She said the Native American statues will be thrown out, because they can no longer be returned to the manufacturer.
"It's completely ridiculous. We didn't mean anything by it."
Roger said some may be offended that the wine holder is offensive to others.
"It's like slapping a Native American in the face," he said, because it assumes that all Native Americans have a problem with alcohol and can't have a wine holder in their house. "A percentage of any population has a problem with alcohol. Many Native Americans are responsible users of alcohol."
The Thompsons said it was never meant to be disrespectful, and their store welcomes people of all cultures and backgrounds. Cindy said Gold Diggers, which features Native American jewelry and other items, was founded on her own appreciation of the Native American culture and artwork. She lived on reservations in the Southwest for many years.
She is frustrated that her commitment to the Native American community and her works of service could be tarnished by one piece of merchandise.
"I'm embarrassed over the situation and humiliated."
Contact Kayla Gahagan at 394-8410 or kayla.gahagan@rapidcityjournal.com
Complaints filed
It's not the first time Native Americans in Rapid City have pushed back against merchandise and displays. A large bronze statue in front of Prairie Edge of a Native American man with his hands tied behind his back was replaced last year after complaints. Most recently, McDonald's fielded complaints about its Night At The Museum Kids Meal toy: Gen. Custer riding a motorcycle.

In peace & solidarity,
Tamra Brennan
"Providing news and information about Native American Issues & Causes"
"Helping to make a difference for our people in Indian Country, one day at a time. What will you do today to help make a difference?"

"Our sacred lands are all that remain keeping us connected to our place on Mother Earth, to our spirituality, our heritage and our lands; what’s left of them. If they take it all away, what will remain except a vague memory of a past so forgotten?" ......excerpt from One Nation, One Land, One People by Tamra Brennan, 2006


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.