Indian Official Calls for City to Curb Racist Sales Displays
A member of an advisory panel to the San Diego City Council is calling for a citywide move to stop area shops from displaying merchandise that he considers racist against American Indians.
Randy Edmonds, who is a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission and an American Indian, said wooden cigar-store Indian figures and other such items perpetuate stereotypes and are insensitive to American Indians.
“American Indians in San Diego are attempting to break down the stereotypical attitude of all people that have a standardized mental picture of Indians that are still living in tepees, that we still wear war bonnets and beads,” said Edmonds, who also is director of the Indian Human Resource Center.
Edmonds singled out several stores in popular tourist spots for exhibiting Indian mascots or dolls.
He also took issue with the use of tribal regalia, songs, dances and symbols by non-Indians. He said Indians consider that regalia highly spiritual, and that it is the height of disrespect for such sacred traditions to be borrowed by people who don’t understand their spiritual meaning.
Edmonds recommended that as a condition of granting a business license the city require business owners to sign a pledge not to defame American Indians or other ethnic groups in the course of doing business.
Commission Chairman Norman Hahn suggested that the commission send letters to the owners of the businesses featured in Edmonds’ pictures to “put them on notice” about the insulting nature of their displays.
Hahn also asked Edmonds to put his proposal into a resolution that could be approved at the panel’s March meeting for presentation to the City Council. Making such a resolution city policy would require a vote from the council, officials said.
About 20,000 American Indians of various tribes live on 18 reservations in San Diego County, officials said.
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