An Instagram boutique based in Stephenville caused a storm on social media last week over their name, "The Spunky Squaw," which eventually led to the company's Instagram account disappearing.
The word "squaw" is considered derogatory and has long been an ethnic slur used to demean American Indian women.
“It’s been used against us for generations," says Emily Clairoux from the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation near Ottawa, Ontario."It’s even been used on me right before a guy punched me in the face."
Clairoux is one of the people behind an effort that was raising money to make a legal complaint against The Spunky Squaw.
The store sells Western and native style clothes for women and came under fire over the weekend when indigenous people and groups began asking them to change their name. An iPetition campaign condemning the business garnered more than 8,000 signatures in just a few days.
Why am I not surprised that someone is using an anti Indigenous slur so blatantly as their business name? People don’t give a shit about *that* kind of racism, and they’re so *inspired* by the culture. They actually think they are *honouring* us. #cancelled pic.twitter.com/DNjawu3wUE— emily ???? (@matchikwe) October 16, 2018
The white girls in town would call us “dirty squaws” growing up and they knew exactly how hurtful it would be. Don’t tell me what the fuck that word means or that it isn’t a slur.— n8ive qt ??????????? (@cholenacree) October 17, 2018
Hmm it’s almost as if there’s a hashtag for that ????????????#notyourmascot— Chelsey Moon (@ChelseyMooner) October 20, 2018
Brooke Adams, a student at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, has since used Facebook Live to explain why her boutique’s name isn’t racist.
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“I have been targeted by a hate group because they are offended by the name of my boutique, The Spunky Squaw. When I came up with the name, I took so much time in making sure it was different, not trendy, and something I appreciated,” Adams said in her statement on Facebook. “There is absolutely no derogatory meaning in the word ‘squaw.’”
But in an Instagram post, Makayla Baker, who claims to be a representative of Adams’ company, used the slur in a hashtag, #YouDamnSquaw, against native women who were calling out the company.
Adams said her address and contact information were released to the public and that she has been receiving hundreds of messages from people who want her to change the store’s name.
The Spunky Squaw did not respond to requests for comment from the Observer.