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Urban Outfitters Finds Itself in Legal Maize

By Jen Mecum [October 14th, 2011] 

"Navajo" products at Urban Outfitters.

Do you find the “Native American-inspired” headline offensive? Jezebel reports on an open letter posted to Racialious.com on October 10th, addressing Urban Outfitters’ recent inundation of products to its store and website accompanied by the descriptor “Navajo.” The author, Sasha Houston Brown, points out that not only is the descriptor offensive to Native Americans (and Americans) everywhere, but it also is illegal, according to The Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. The Act states, in pertinent part:

“All products must be marketed truthfully regarding the Indian heritage and tribal affiliation of the producers, so as not to mislead the consumer. It is illegal to market an art or craft item using the name of a tribe if a member, or certified Indian artisan, of that tribe did not actually create the art or craft item.”

The overwhelming majority of the 23 products for sale on the Urban Outfitters website are imported. Violation of the Act can result in civil penalties and fines up to $1,000,000.

Furthermore, Jezebel reports that the Navajo Nation holds 12 trademarks on the term “Najavo” (including two that cover various forms of clothing and one that covers online retailing).

Urban Outfitters has found itself in legal hot water quite recently with the parents of an underage model, as reported on CaseClothesed last month.

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