Minnetonka Moccasin Co. is apologizing to the Native American community for over 75 years for appropriating their culture in Minneapolis-based footwear company Minnetonka
Since its opening in 1946, Minnetonka has started selling Native-themed moccasins and Native accessories to roadside gift shops, CEO David Miller said in a statement on the company's website.
Some of its original products, some of which are still being sold, were authenticated by Native American culture, Miller said. He further observed that the use of the word moccasin was appropriation which is an anglicization of the Ojibwe makizinan word.
In fact, although the company says it has evolved from its original products, it confirms that moccasins still remain a core part of the brand.
In the summer of 2020, Miller publicly apologized for its appropriation, but that was still long overdue, according to Minnetonka.
We deeply apologized for having benefited from selling Native inspired designs without directly honoring Native culture or communities, the company said in a statement.
Last year, the company says it began to step up its commitment to the culture to which we owe so much and is committed to honoring this commitment by taking more active and public stance in supporting native communities. In order to do so, the company says it will make a concerted effort to improve the diversity, equity, and inclusion of underrepresented groups within the company.
It also plans to update the language it uses especially for describing products. The language will provide greater transparency and more direct acknowledgment of Native American influence across our website, packaging and other communication channels, Miller said.
Minnetonka also promises to work with a wide variety of vendors and suppliers and collaborates with local Native artists and designers for future collections.