VIDEO: 'You Lost the War'; Store Clerk Justifies Sale of Racist T-Shirts, Headdresses

Simon Moya-Smith
3/26/15

A shop clerk's response to a Native American woman protesting the sale of culturally appropriated items has drawn caustic debate online.

A Lakota woman confronted the clerk in Albuquerque, New Mexico when she happened upon racist T-shirts and Native American headdresses at the Mercado Gift shop located at the Hyatt in downtown Albuquerque.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” the woman says during a cell phone video she shot.

“I’m coming to bring this to you,” she says to the clerk. “I don’t appreciate seeing any of this shit here.”

The Lakota woman, who was in town for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium at the convention center, tells the clerk that the display and sale of culturally appropriated items in the store is “disgusting.” 

“I do not want any of those up on that wall. If I could grab them I would take them down, too,” she said. “This is disgusting, this is disgusting. This is a part of my people’s heritage," she said referring to the headdress.

According to the Lakota woman in the video, also on sale were culturally insensitive T-shirts including one that read, “My Indian Name Is Runs-With-Beer.”

The Lakota woman soon turns her attention back to the headdresses.

“You’re living on our land," she tells the clerk. "That’s our people’s things,” she said.

The clerk responds by saying one headdress was "made by a Navajo."

Then, seemingly trying to justify the sale of the items, the clerk brazenly told the Lakota woman, “Hey, you lost the war, friend. I’m sorry.”

A collective gasp and reactions of disbelief can be heard in the background coming from other shop-goers.

Online, people are both applauding and chastising the Lakota woman.

One person who commented on the KRQE website said the Lakota woman caused the "poor clerk to be visibly upset."

Another came to the Lakota woman's defense and said, "If people knew (or our schools taught ) more about our violent histories maybe they would not sell or say stupid things that are so offensive and conduct themselves with more class."

The clerk later told KRQE News 13 the headdress was valued at $800 and that the Lakota woman damaged it during the confrontation. The Lakota woman does not have to pay for the damages, KRQE News reported.

The store has since pulled several of the offensive T-shirts off the shelves.

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Comments

Vallorie Scott's picture
Vallorie Scott
Submitted by Vallorie Scott on
This woman was rude and made totally inappropriate comments..if she was visibly upset, well so she should be...by her own comment!! The Lakota woman had a right to confront the issue of racially inappropriate shirts,etc...I do, however wish she hadn't been swearing, it doesn't help the cause. I'm glad to hear that the store is removing some of the offensive T shirts..it is at least a start so she did some good.

sweetmystique's picture
sweetmystique
Submitted by sweetmystique on
I know this is probably going to be an unpopular comment but I'm going to post anyway. Although I agree with the Lakota woman's feelings on this matter, she needs to get a grip. As a cashier myself I get the brunt end of many irate customers; some with legitimate concerns, some not. Some are just too stupid to be walking around and when they mess up, as is the case a lot of times, it's somehow MY fault that they're not getting the deal they wanted. Mine, not the store's, not them, not corporate - mine. I guarantee you she didn't make those "offensive" items, she didn't buy them for the store, she probably didn't even set them out. She most likely earns minimum wage and was having an okay day until "Irate Lakota" lambasted her. As a Native American woman myself, I, too, would have been offended, both by the store's callous lack of racial sensitivity, accountability and just common sense, but also by how Irate Lakota verbally abused this woman taking her frustrations out on her and not where it ought to have been. Her language, her demeanor, and her hostile attitude would have caused ANYONE to go on the defensive. Her message was lost in the vitriol. It's not up to the clerk what the store sells, so naturally Irate Lakota should have taken it up with management instead of attacking someone who is basically powerless. Since she was filming this the whole time, she obviously expected something and she got it. Good for her. I'm glad the store is changing it's attitude. Could the same results have happened if Irate Lakota had taken a different tact? Maybe, maybe not. I guess we'll never know. I still think she went about it the wrong way. Honestly, I think they both owe each other an apology, but I know that's never going to happen.
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