SALT LAKE CITY -- Jennifer Wolf grew up on the Lac Du Flambeau Reservation in Wisconsin. She lives in Denver now but tries to stay connected to her heritage, in part by hosting a student from the reservation.
“I wanted to show her that there’s a whole world out there that has more progressive views than where she comes from,” Wolf said.
Wolf remembers growing up on the reservation and visiting the nearby towns where she felt discriminated against. It’s not a feeling she has had to face often at her new home in Denver -- nor is it anything she expected to feel on a family trip to Utah.
When Wolf walked into the Original Red Dirt Shirts store in Moab, one of her kids asked about a t-shirt.
It read: “My Indian Name is Runs with Beer.”
Wolf and both of her kids have Native American names, given to them by a family elder to represent the hopes and dreams for their lives.
“We thought it was poking fun at both our cultural heritage and struggles that our people have with alcohol,” said Wolf of the t-shirt.
She went back to the store with her camera rolling, posting live video on Facebook as they confronted a store employee.
The employee was polite, explaining he does not choose the slogans, directing them to the corporate website. He also mentioned there have been few complaints about the t-shirt.
Wolf’s original Facebook post did draw a response from the Original Red Dirt Shirts Facebook account. One post reads:
You don’t buy from us so your vote don’t count.
Maybe it’s because we don’t share your opinion. Thank you for the publicity and keep on liking Red Dirt Shirts.
Both posts have since been removed.
Wolf believes the Facebook posts and the shirts contribute to a culture marginalizing Native Americans, by treating their culture with disrespect.
“My Native American name is Ishquegiizhigungkwe, which means edge of sky. It represents when you are looking at a sunrise or sunset and there’s that little sliver of light. It kind of represents the power that happens during times of change,” Wolf said.
Wolf would like an apology from the company and the shirts removed from the store.