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Reactions to "Editorial: The phrase 'wampum jewelry'"
The response to the "wampum jewelry" editorial has been unanimous in asserting that the phrase "wampum jewelry" should not be trademarked, especially by someone who has no natural rights to it. Here are some samples.
NOBODY SHOULD OWN WORDS
I most assuredly agree with the statements on the previous page for several reasons.
First of all, yes, the government and some of the individuals of this country continue to misrepresent, steal from and abuse the native peoples. NOBODY should OWN words.
PATENTING AND DISCRIMINATION
Patenting "wampum jewelry" is as absurd as patenting "bead jewelry" or "shell jewelry", etc. I also think reserving the term "native American" for a certain genetic group is also absurd. I am as "native American" as anyone else born in the United States of America.
I am a native of Detroit and recently filled out the Census as "native American". Do you care to dispute that? Singling out certain Americans based upon their genes is the highest form of discrimination.
I totally agree with the position that The Bead Site is taking in regards to this issue.
It is outrageous that this woman thinks she can lay claim (patent a trademark) to a Native American tribe's language, and try to profit from what has been in existence before this country was ever conceived. I do not have much influence, but if this email helps in some small way, then please feel free to publish. Thank you so much.
GREEDY AND TAKING ADVANTAGE
I believe that although she should have the right to have a company called 'Wampum jewelry' if she registered it first as a company, she should not have the right to take a term that is merely descriptive and not of her own language. Anyone else's use of the word would not harm her in any way or cost her any money.
She is being greedy and trying to take advantage of those people. I also feel that the term is demeaning to Native Americans because it refers to the fact that white people felt they were taking advantage of them by trading what they considered worthless for something very valuable, such as land for beads. The tribe that uses it in their language should have rights to it, without paying anyone.
LEAVE THEM ALONE
I totally agree with you. If someone tried to patent Star of David or Crucifix or Baptismal etc. you would have tons of people raising a ruckus so give them a break! Leave the Native Americans language and terminology alone!!!
I was astounded to hear that anyone had the audacity to trademark an ancient name from a Native American language. But when I learned that the person who had done it was not Native American herself, I became, for a time, too angry for words. This person has neither the intrinsic right nor the permission from those who have a natural right to the use of this word. The trademark should be rescinded. And I believe that damages are due to the Wampanoags.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Native peoples are legally and morally entitled to the words traditionally used to describe their work. I also believe that art historians and Native American historians would be happy to assist any native people to back their claim. If the current patent holder insists that money exchange hands, let her charge one dollar and donate that back to the Center for Bead Research or a similar non-profit organization. I will pass this word onto others for their opinion and possible assistance to the tribe(s).
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