Land O’Lakes Drops the Iconic Logo of an Indigenous Woman From Its BrandingBreaking News
tags: Native American history, Advertisement, commercial goods, consumer culture
Just ahead of its 100th anniversary, Land O’Lakes has retired Mia, the indigenous woman who once featured prominently in its iconic logo, from all packaging. Many of the dairy company’s popular butters, creams, cheeses and other products will now display a serene portrait of a tree-fringed lake under the Land O’Lakes name, which will appear adorned with the phrase “farmer-owned.” The company expects to complete the phaseout by the end of 2020.
Arriving on the heels of universities, sports teams and other businesses making comparable moves to drop indigenous images, symbols and titles from their logos, the Land O’Lakes change has been noted by some as necessary and perhaps long overdue.
“Thank you to Land O’Lakes for making this important and needed change,” Minnesota Lt. Governor and White Earth Band of Ojibwe member Peggy Flanagan tweeted last week. “Native people are not mascots or logos. We are very much still here.”
Painted by Brown & Bigelow illustrator Arthur C. Hanson, Mia first appeared on labels in 1928, kneeling in stereotypical garb and clutching a Land O’Lakes container. The image and its “butter maiden” moniker have long drawn criticism, with detractors describing the branding as a racist objectification of indigenous people. As Hailey Waller reports for Bloomberg News, the American Psychological Association previously found that the presence of such mascots on prominent advertisements may have “a negative impact on the self-esteem of American Indian children.”
Mia has remained in the public discourse since her debut. In the 1950s, she was reimagined by Ojibwe artist Patrick DesJarlait, who hoped to foster “a sense of Indian pride” across the Midwest, according to the Minnesota Reformer. Keene notes that during this troubled era, when indigenous groups were being repeatedly silenced and persecuted by governing bodies, national recognition of this sort may have been empowering.
DesJarlait’s son Robert supports the image’s removal but remains grateful for his father’s contribution.
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