1661880399381 Landolakesnewpackagingside

Buh-Bye, Land O’Lakes Native American

April 20, 2020

Minorities should not be used as advertising mascots.

Source: Land O' Lakes 

It took almost 100 years, but the Land O’Lakes Indian maiden finally passed away.

Land O’Lakes is rolling out a comprehensive packaging redesign that has already started to appear on foodservice products, tub butter and deli cheese, and is scheduled soon for its signature stick butter. The company’s release says the new packaging will reflect its roots as an agricultural co-op: “Research shows that consumers care about farmers and are excited when they learn Land O’Lakes is farmer-owned."

The release doesn’t mention the departure of the American Indian female, who was added to the packaging in 1928. My reaction: good riddance.

The use of minorities as mascots or icons, for sports teams, foods or anything else, is inherently disrespectful and trivializing. I really don’t get why this is supposed to be OK for Native Americans, given that 1) their treatment in this country has been historically shameful and 2) it would be unthinkable to use images of African-Americans, Jews, or literally any other historically oppressed ethnic or religious minority in this fashion.

What’s especially ridiculous about the Land O’Lakes situation is that Indians and butter have nothing to do with each other. Not only was butter not a part of the traditional Indian diet; well over half of Native Americans are lactose intolerant.

The only possible connection is that a lot of Native Americans used to live in Minnesota, where Land O’Lakes is headquartered. Emphasis on “used to.” The history of Indians in Minnesota drearily matches that of the rest of the country; their population has dwindled to less than 55,000, or about 1% of the state’s total.

Use of the “Indian maiden” was a variation on a unique American tendency: Naming things after the things and people that were removed, or destroyed, to make room for them. I won’t miss her.

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