Social Media erupts as Native groups ask owner of ‘Spunky Squaw’ to change name

A Spunky Squaw store rep uses #YouDamnSquaw hashtag, Another apologizes. Online petition garners 1,000's of signatures

Brooke Adams, a 21-year-old Texas college student at Tarleton State University is getting considerable heat on social media for her online boutique store she named ‘Spunky Squaw.’

On her website, TheSpunkySquaw.com, are a selection of clothing items that include western and Native themes. The site also had an Instagram account of about 6,500 followers, however the page has since been removed.

Adams told Jana J. Pruet, a senior staff writer at The Blaze, that the phrase Spunky Squaw, for her “trendsetting boutique with a love for western flair” was a description reflecting “a lively Native American woman.”

Screen capture, Spunky Squaw website.

On Monday, Adams began receiving messages on social media asserting the name Spunky Squaw was appropriating Native culture and was offensive. Some of the messages were angry while others asked Adams to consider changing the name.

Jana J. Pruet at the Blaze called the reactions to Adams’ retail store, as being “attacked by hate groups alleging racism.”

The arguments over the name were heated on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. In the article by Pruet, she cites one Facebook account ‘Rihannon Babyn” who sent a private Facebook message: “I came across your stupid boutique name on Instagram & thought how awful it is for this white person to be unaware of what they are doing... I am sorry you do not see a problem with a dumb-ass white b***h like yourself, culturally appropriating a name that you are not.”

Adams told the Blaze she was shocked by the woman’s message and she and other family members have received “thousands of threats” through social media, email, and text messages.. “People are so closed-minded and sensitive,” she said.

The argument was not one-sided. The Instagram account @Makayla_Bakerr, who states in an Instagram post that she is a representative of Spunky Squaw, was cited for calling out Native women on Instagram with the hashtag #YouDamnSquaw.

Screen capture, Instagram.

Screen capture, Instagram.

In an instagram comment, the Spunky Squaw representative states, Thank you so much for being about to point out the fact I'm white ... I had no idea? And by the way to (sic) you see a damn headpiece on my head? No. so shut the hell up get off my page and go gripe to someone who cares, because I do not. #youdamnsquaw.

Another Spunky Squaw representative, @theboujieblonde on Instagram, called another instagram account “too sensitive for the entire world.” She also claimed girls represented the boutique that were Native American and were not offended.

She continued in the post, “I'm not offending anyone it's a boutique name. I think what’s offending anyone if anything, is you and your Lil Squaw gang commenting on all our posts trashing us, and our brand…”

Screen capture, Instagram.

The Spunky Squaw rep later apologized. “I would like to personally apologize to all of the people who have been offended by my posts regarding the word squ** in them. In no way shape or form was the word used to personally attack anyone’s culture, race, or personal beliefs. To us, the word meant native woman or wife. But to y’all, it means much more than that. I apologize for not being aware of the true meaning. And to be honest, before two days ago, to me the word meant nothing at all. I thought it was just a cute name for a boutique.”

Screen capture, Instagram.

In the midst of all the social media chatter, Native accounts are not buying an apology, some are even threatening legal action.

One Twitter account,@canoecanoa, Tweeted, “We all know the #navajonation doesn't have mercy for non-Native entities profiting off our tribe's name, likeness, or imagery. Finally checked out the spunky sq*aw website & guess who picked the wrong tribe to mess with? Lmao”

In the Twitter thread, @canoecanoa lists ways to file complaints with the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, and stated she had also contacted Navajo Nation lawyers since the Spunky Squaw company used likenesses of Navajo Nation imagery in their clothing line.

Currently there is a petition titled The Spunky Squaw Change Your Business Name which has over 6,000 signatures.

Indian Country Today reached out to to the Spunky Squaw retail store but they have not yet responded to our request for comments.

Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter -@VinceSchilling

Email -vschilling@indiancountrytoday.com

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Comments (8)
No. 1-6
Ahmyahsin
Ahmyahsin

If you are not offended with "Spunky Squaw" instead of appropriating a foul word and make it an appropriate name like Uhm "Spunky Pigskin" oh but then the pigs might not like this so ....hmmmm "Spunky Sluts" is that not a word from your language and culture? It suits you well cause you can sell anything from your Boutique and you are not appropriating cause this word is all yours from your culture. Now pay me for finding you a great name.

CDH
CDH

Little Papoose?? This is a line of childrens stuff on her website! Young lady not only are you ignorant but you really have bad taste. Now lets turn the tables.... lil blue coats. Lil thievin settlers!! Cute!!! White Eyes!!

CDH
CDH

How about white eyes!! Great name. Texas hillbilly. Ignorant with bad taste not a good combo! Be original honey! Squaw is a made up white mans name to degrade rape and steal.

caniscandida
caniscandida

Both "spunky" and "squaw" have crude sexual connotations in modern English. Native women are right to be offended by the term, and the young Texas entrepreneur is being disingenuous when she claims the name for her boutique is innocent.

DLFree
DLFree

How about calling it "The Conky Ho". It has the same meaning, except refers to white women instead of Indigenous ones.

I'm not serious about the name, as I am mixed race, and know how it feels to be the victim of racism. Just wanted to come up with something that meant the same, but from a white perspective.

Seriously, how did you not know that the word "squaw" was offensive? Also, your employee Makayla, she did nothing to help your case, and comes off as very racist. Especially with her youdamnsquaw hashtag.