Photo: Facebook /@greggdeal

Outrage Spreads Over Czech Company’s Use of Native-American Images

A Czech bicycle manufacturer is in the hot seat for its new advertising campaign

A Czech bike manufacturer has come under fire for using Native-American iconography in its branding and promotional campaign, outraging a number of social media users in recent weeks.

The outcry started when the brand, Apache Bicycles, appeared at the Eurobike show in Germany last month. The company was particularly criticized by Native artist Gregg Deal who took to Facebook to lash out at Apache’s misappropriation of indigenous imagery, writing:

I know a lot of Apache that won’t like this, but of course they’re using images from all sorts of tribes, but regulating wares to tipis, feathers and white women dressed in “Indian” costumes while calling their bikes things like “Scalp”.

Lukáš Bárta, the CEO of BP Lumen, the parent company of Apache, told industry publication Bicycle Retailer:

To be honest, I did not expect such negative feedback because of using Apache name as a brand and Native Americans topic for our marketing. We are almost 20 years in the market, we have thousands of customers, business partners and fans here in Europe and we never heard anything bad about our brand. It means that it’s nothing bad here in Europe,” he said.

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According to the site, the company plans to eliminate some model names, including the aforementioned Scalp e-bike model, and remove historic photos of Native American leaders from its marketing.  It will no longer dress hostesses in costumes and war paint at trade shows.

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Bárta went on to cite the Czech love of films based on the Karel May character Winnetou, saying that “Indians are our heroes, many people live like them here in Europe. We celebrate them. It never occurred to us that it would hurt anyone.” 

This clash of cultures is something that many foreigners living in the Czech Republic find difficult to adjust to. Here in Prague, controversy recently surrounded what was perceived by many as a racially insensitive sign appearing at a hospital emergency room as well as a popular Czech television series which relies heavily on blackface.

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