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News > Latin America

Indigenous Mexicans Slam Misappropriation of Native Designs

  • Constanza Garcia Lopez, an Indigenous mother of Oaxaca, shows a traditional huipil dress embroidered by other Indigenous women.

    Constanza Garcia Lopez, an Indigenous mother of Oaxaca, shows a traditional huipil dress embroidered by other Indigenous women. | Photo: EFE

Published 3 March 2017
Opinion

"Stop the cultural and textile dispossession of our peoples!" said representatives of Mexico's Indigenous Chinanteco community.

Representatives of Mexico's Indigenous Chinanteco community in Oaxaca on Thursday publically denounced Spanish fashion company Intropia for misappropriating its native designs, El Imparcial reports.

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"Stop the cultural and textile dispossession of our peoples!" the representatives said in a statement, according to the site.

"We oppose the textile plagiarism of our original peoples and want full recognition of Chinanteca culture."

Textile artists, anthropologists, and historians held a press conference at the Textile Museum of Oaxaca where they criticized Intropia for allegedly plagiarizing Chinanteco huipil designs without giving them credit. Huipils are loose-fitting tunics with intricate designs that have been worn by Mexican and Central American Indigenous women for over a thousand years.

Intropia, according to the Indigenous representatives, sold replicas of huipils with Chinanteco designs as "mini embroidered Aztec dresses" and "mini dresses embroidered with zig zag details" without given proper credit. Chinantecos are a non-Aztec Indigenous group that allied with neighboring tribes to fight the Aztec Empire prior to colonization.

The Indigenous representatives said Intropia's products and their accompanying descriptions show "a lack of knowledge of the iconography and elements of the daily huipil that narrates their entire history," according to El Imparcial.

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They demanded that the Spanish fashion company give credit for the designs they have already produced to the Chinanteco people, and end any future reproductions of their designs. They also took the opportunity to invite Intropia representatives to visit their community and learn about their Indigenous culture and history.

Criticizing the Mexican government, the Chinanteca representatives asked why they don't take action on the mass plagiarization of Indigenous Mexican culture and intellectual property.

"What does the Mexican State do to protect the collective rights of Indigenous peoples?" they asked.

"Because they're letting people plagiarize our art, traditional knowledge, plants, animals, and gastronomy."

Intropia has not responded to these criticisms, El Imparcial reports. Chinanteco leaders are evaluating legal actions they might take against the Spanish fashion company.

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