A popular Saskatoon rock band is facing criticism after using an Aboriginal symbol in one of their promotional t-shirts.
The Sheepdogs t-shirt features an Aboriginal man wearing a headdress with the words “Five Easy Pieces” underneath.
Rob Innes, who teaches in the Department of Native Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, says Aboriginal symbols are often appropriated in popular culture because it is something that has been easy to get away with.
“Since Aboriginal people are numerically small in North America, they’re voices are easy to ignore,” he says. “They don’t have a great buying power, so if Aboriginal people boycott, they’re not going to affect sales.”
Innes says he doesn’t believe the Sheepdogs mean to offend anyone with the shirt but the design was created due to a lack of general awareness.
Nevertheless, he says the band would be wise to follow the lead of other organizations who have found themselves embroiled in similar controversies by apologizing and withdrawing the shirt from its merchandising sales.
The Sheepdogs have also been criticized by members of Idle No More for the t-shirt.
The band was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in August 2011.
They also have one of their songs featured in a Saskatchewan Tourism commercial and are scheduled to play this November at the 2013 Grey Cup in Regina.