Native American Community Upset by T-shirt Design
Members of the Nebraska Native American community claim that a T-shirt design reinforces stereotypes of Native Americans as alcoholics.
According to the Lincoln Journal Star, the T-shirt, sold by Corner 3 Tees, featured a design of a dream catcher with beer bottles hanging from it, with the words "Indian Lot." Corner 3 Tees specializes in Midwest-themed T-shirt designs.
Corner 3 Tees said that the design was meant to reference a popular tailgating location behind the Lincoln Indian Center—a spot where, as of last year, alcohol is prohibited during tailgates. After a tailgate party ended with more than a dozen arrests last September, the Indian Center's board of directors moved to permanently ban alcohol from the property.
"The lot in question netted the owners a great amount of profit over the years as its popularity stemmed almost entirely from the tailgating festivities, which involved a vast amount of alcohol around various Native American structures," a spokesperson from Corner 3 Tees said. "We elected to profit from the lot's reputation in a similar manner."
They added that the T-shirt was designed only to celebrate the lot, and that any offensive statement toward the Native American community is unintentional.
Others, including Indian Center director Clyde Tyndall, believe that the design is racist. Rebekka Schlichting, a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told the Lincoln Journal Star that those who aren't familiar with the popular tailgating locale might take the shirt's message the wrong way.
"I think they're very offensive and encourage racism and ignorance," she said of the T-shirts. "Obviously, they're associating alcohol with Native Americans."
The Corner 3 Tees spokesperson added that Corner 3 Tees may still sell the T-shirt design, or a similar design with changes made to appease Native Americans.