Canada | Opinion

Christine Smith: Hoodie inspires debate about First Nation rights

Thank an Indian, t-shirts by Jeff Menard.

Christine Smith McFarlane praises teen Tennelle Starr and apparel creator Jeff Menard for stirring debate about Native rights and treaties:
Tennelle Starr deserves to be applauded as a young person taking a stand about First Nations land and treaty rights. It’s good to see her assert a stance on something as pivotal as First Nations land and treaty rights because when one youth takes a stance, other youth are encouraged to do the same.

Jeff Menard, the creator of this hoodie, said, "I found it unbelievable that this is happening here in Canada because every Canadian should have the right to freedom of speech and be able to express their opinion.”

Menard said he started the “Got Land, Thank An Indian” line in the summer of 2012. “At first I sold it out of my girlfriend’s home, but then as the news of the hoodie started to spread like wildfire, I started selling it online, and out of the city and at the gas station by Roseau River Band Line.”

Menard said, “By creating this hoodie, I wanted to create awareness and bring back pride to the Native communities, and help bands with land treaty rights. I also want to see our Prime Minister Stephen Harper wear this hoodie, because if he wants to deal with Natives, it would be a show of good faith.”

The “Got land? Thank an Indian” slogan goes a lot deeper than just words on a hoodie. It speaks of the many injustices that the First Nations of Canada have faced since European contact. I'm talking about racism, discrimination, land theft, and First Nations peoples being uprooted and placed on lands that are prone to flooding and are unsustainable when it comes to living the way we were traditionally taught.

Get the Story:
Christine Smith McFarlane: Got Land? Thank An Indian! (Indian Country Today 3/2)

Also Today:
Creator of 'Thank an Indian' shirts hits business snag (CBC 2/26)

Related Stories:
Native teenager defends shirt as treaty rights statement (1/15)

Join the Conversation