Cetan Wanbli Williams: Navajos going after Urban Outfitters

"I find it ironic the Navajo Nation is suing Urban Outfitters for copyright infringement on a pair of underwear.

First off, I pledge total support toward the Navajo effort and anticipate the case will set precedent for future legal action by Tribes with regard to misappropriation. The American Indian Arts and Crafts Act is a weapon Tribes have yet to fully wield on the legal battlefield.

The irony is, the Navajo might themselves be guilty of infringement. My evidence is as follows:

A few months back I attended a large formal doings where the featured artist was famed Navajo flutist R. Carlos Nakai. The emcee informed the crowd that Mr. Nakai has sold over three (3) million albums worldwide. (That’s like triple-platinum in Indian country.) Mr. Nakai wore his hair parted down the middle, with braids tucked behind each ear. His evening attire included a fully beaded vest featuring geometric Plains-style designs.

As Mr. Nakai entertained the crowd, my uncle leaned over and quietly asked me, “When did Navajos start dressing like us and playing flutes?”"

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Cetan Wanbli Williams: Urban Siouxs Navajo Outfitters (Indian Country Today 3/30)

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