Petitioners call "Big Indian" car dealer sign racist

Except that the Native Americans for whom the Black Hills are sacred are the ones who commissioned it.


Frankly, I’m surprised the surrounding community has tolerated this thing clearly flashing a gang sign in their midst for the past six decades.


I knew, but only because of the tigers involved.

The caricatures involved are no longer appropriate today regardless of what continent. When I was a child my version had a “Black Mami” character that replaced “Black Mumbo” & “Black Jumbo” wasn’t to be found. Other than that the story & illustrations were similar to the original, but had clearly been Africanized or American-Africanized. The tigers however remained & were a giveaway since I was completely enraptured by anything animal at the time & could tell you where you could or could not find damn near any animal, or so I thought then.

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I remember being able to get these things by collecting jam jar lids.

Took years and years before the company eventually stopped the promotion - and even then they said it wasn’t because they were caving to Political Correctness.


I am part Native (Haudenosaunee, Irish, Finnish, roughly 50/25/25) and I’ve been actively opposing these kind of racist caricatures since my college years. What strikes me again and again is just how much the predominant culture is saturated with these things. No sooner have we dealt with one thing, but then another thing comes up. It’s a full time job with endless job security, but the pay sucks.

I think we’ve really gained momentum in the past 5 years by utilizing social media – that’s why the battle against the Washington team name and Chief Wahoo have been featured so prominently. We’ve got a millions of enlightened Americans on our side who are finally saying this is unacceptable in this day and age.

(And as for mindless self-promotion, please click this link:


Yeah, I like @daemonsquire’s idea myself. I’d like it even better if all the self-righteous non-Indian people who don’t care for the sign would pay the owners and the museum to make it happen. Hell, I will contribute myself, even though I’m not offended by the sign.

Because then we’d be people making a positive difference in the world instead of a negative one. I don’t like setting up a car salesman as a whipping boy for the Trail of Tears.

History deserves preservation, historic wrongs deserve understanding, and clueless car dealers shouldn’t be made the dumping ground for guilt people feel over the deeds of their ancestors.

@nungesser, yes I know that the man who commissioned the Crazy Horse monument has some Native ancestry. This does not make him identical to all American Indians nor is he by virtue of his skin color a spokesman for all his “race”. I think we can agree that is an inherently racist assumption, right? Especially since many Lakota and other Native Americans are apparently offended by the whole Crazy Horse project.

@FunkDaddy, when the story was read to me as a child I had no idea that tigers weren’t African, and this did lead to confusion later in life! I disagree that people should be protected from historic literature, though. I think people should read the original Tom Swift, and the original Mary Kingsley, and the original Little Black Sambo, and also stories that caricature “white” people, like for instance Bluebeard and Cinderella. These things just need to be set in the proper context, which is why @daemonsquire’s suggestion is so excellent!


I love Oregon, but the casual racism can be a shock. A very, very close relative of mine (like as close as can be) said a few years ago, “I can’t believe Condalezza Rice is a republican! She’s black!”. My head literally hit the table. And that kind of low level racism here is very ingrained.


Caricatures are not inherently evil

That depends on who is making the caricature and whom the caricature is of.

An imperialistic culture rolls onto your continent, killing off a huge amount of your people, claiming your land as their own, and (for a long time) actively trying to annihilate your culture (which, by the way, is considered a form of genocide, please consult the UN).

Once your culture and people have been virtually erased, your oppressors declare that the oppression is “over”, and go about drawing funny pictures of your people to sell pollution machines to other oppressors. When you protest that you find this offensive, your cultural oppressors paint you as overly sensitive and try to define what you should or shouldn’t be offended by.

The sign represents a historical cultural stereotype as imagined by (almost undoubtedly) a white person. The owners/creators intentions or beliefs aren’t at all relevant.


Yup, I like the sign museum idea too. And yes literature need never be hidden or destroyed, only presented in the appropriate context.

Poor sign museum tho, if such an idea caught on they’d be swamped with things like that & from what I read they need a new roof.

Oh and @Medievalist, on your first point regarding the dilemma faced by the owner of the sign, if they gave it five minutes of thought they would be one well-worded press release from a positive PR coup likes of which are probably far beyond their normal reach. Coupled with the museum suggestion & it would get coverage that would eclipse whatever negative coverage their ham-fisted justification gets. Where minds don’t meet, there is always self-interest to appeal to.


Poor Apache Chief really hit the skids after the Super Friends dropped him and he lost his product liability lawsuit.

Pretty much what i was going to say, the imagery doesn’t seem racist. Comparatively, barbershops in ye’ olde days putting a native american chief statue outside holding cigars as a form of advertizing… that’s racist.

Also if we’re going to get butthurt over showing someone of another race merely pointing at a business, then close your eyes any time you see advertizing for mexican restaurants. You’re going to have an aneurism.

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I know that the man who commissioned the Crazy Horse monument has some Native ancestry

Just for the record, he was Henry Standing Bear, a full-blooded Lakota Sioux who was the Chief of the Lakota Nation when he (and the council of elders) commissioned a bust of Crazy Horse to be carved into the Black Hills. Korczak Ziolkowski responded by suggesting the massive sculpture that’s in progress now, which they approved. I know that it’s controversial, and I’d never assume he spoke for all Natives, but the Lakota at the time welcomed the project and even made Ziolkowski an honorary member for his service. I don’t see anything racist about it.


I wish i could take comfort in the idea of racism, but as a white guy i just have to live with the knowledge that some people think I’m an asshole.

I’ve always found it sort of bizarre that we have such an elevated level of butthurt over something like this, but nobody seems to bat an eyelid over cartoons of dumpy, unshaven, lazy guys in sarapes and sombreros at Mexican restaurants, or fat, big-lipped, huge-mustached Italian caricatures on pizza boxes.

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You should ask Pescovitz, since it seems pretty clear from his copy that he doesn’t think this is that bad (basically, petitioners call it racist, and though it has been there 60 years, it’s only now that people are objecting).

These stories caricature white people? Huh?

The car dealership specializes in American Indian automobiles?

I don’t see a lot of Mexican-restaurant ads, but Chipotle’s advertising seems unobjectionable, and Taco Bell’s Mexican is as Mexican-inspired as their Bell is, I guess.


That’s a valid rationale provided we are willing to excuse (& by inference endorse as valid) any & all statements revealing moral inconsistencies & philosophical incompatibilities if, & only if, such statements are made by a member of the same group that is asserting status as a victimized population.

Such a position is akin to the dust up some years back when a Black activist (whose name I do not recall) declared that it was impossible for African-Americans to be considered racist because they were, themselves, victims of racism. This assertion was fatally flawed & completely indefensible.

All such propositions are completely fallacious if we accept that words, as an essential baseline reference, hold discernible meaning beyond that which we “want” them to hold. If agreement cannot be reached in defining & accepting the most fundamental elements of communication, then attempts at communication itself becomes meaningless.

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Its the genocide and repression, and the resulting socioeconomic impact that divides the goofy Italian chef at restaurants and caricatures of native Americans. When structural economic issues and racial nepotism have been solved then we can all caricature each other equally.


Regarding the dealership’s excuse/justification, it isn’t just flawed in rationale, GM stopped using a headdress as the style logo in the 50’s, updated to a “red arrow head” which evolved into the “red arrowhead” we all relate to the brand.

I don’t think the statue in question is among any variation


Make it a Cowboy