Minneapolis Brewing Co-op removes image of Ira Hayes from its beer can
By Darren Thompson
MINNEAPOLIS—A collaboration of two organizations that celebrate brewing in Minneapolis recently decided to remove labels from a beer can that displayed the name and likeness of Ira Hayes, one of Indian Country’s most iconic heroes. , while other labels continue to be distributed in the so-called “Native Heroes” series of beer cans that includes iconic Native pioneers Wilma Mankiller, Dr. Susan Picotte and Sacheen Littlefeather.
Hayes was a Pima Indian from the Gila River Indian Reservation in central Arizona who helped raise the American flag at Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945, during World War II.
The beer cans are part of “The Messenger” series, a combined effort of two organizations, Brewing Change Collaborative (BCC) and Broken Clock Brewing Cooperative (BCBC) in hopes of inspiring change through messaging on his products. Proceeds from the products are distributed to BCC, with funds used to grow and sustain the organization. BCBC, the series creator, states on its website that “our organic union was born out of a pure desire to not only speak to the dissonance of American penchant for white privilege/preservation and its lack of black existence, but to rise and become agents of change.
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Stories to accompany each person in The Messenger series were also written by an Indigenous member of Brewing Change Collaborative, the BCBC founder said.
Asked how the images of iconic leaders appeared on beer cans, BCBC Founder and Director of Community Outreach, Jeremy Mathison, said: “Our Messenger series is a collaboration of beers that we are doing with an organization called Brewing Change Collaborative. This is our third beer in the series and the artwork was done by a local aboriginal artist. »
The Brewing Change Collaborative is a nonprofit made up of black, indigenous, brown and other people of color in the beer, liquor and hospitality sectors, said Mahad Muhammad, chairman of the board of Administration of Brewing Change Collaborative. “Our intention in launching the Messenger Series as an educational collaborative work with BCBC is strictly to tell the stories of our ancestors, the marginalized, the forgotten accomplishments and the incredibly talented young artists, writers, musicians, BIPOC leaders among us now, providing providing them with the opportunity to work and be paid for the volume of their work,” Muhammad said in an email to Native News Online.
According to Muhammed, the Messenger Series committee includes board members from BCC and BCBC. “As Chairman of the Board, I have met and had conversations internally with our members, especially our Indigenous members, and after speaking with friends from the Indigenous Food Lab and people at AIM ( American Indian Movement), we decided to tell Ira‘s humble story, and the accomplishments far exceeded his death from alcoholism,” he said of Ira Hayes’ choice in the new Messenger series from the brewing collaboration.
Lisa Bellanger, co-director of the American Indian Movement, was appalled when she saw the name and image of Ira Hayes on a can of beer. “Using a tool of genocide to honor some of our most beloved leaders is not a way to honor our ancestors, or use it as a way to educate an entire group of people,” Bellanger told Native News Online.
No one from Indigenous Food Labs (IFL), the nonprofit operation of Sean Sherman and Dana Thompson’s The Sioux Chef, remembers a conversation about the collaborative or beer. “Nobody at the IFL has any memory or knowledge of the beer, but is also upset about it,” Sherman told Native News Online.
“This is extremely alarming to us, and I hope our word can be taken into consideration,” Indigenous Food Labs founder and executive director Dana Thompson wrote in an email to Broken Clock founder Jeremy Mathison. . “There is no one on our team who remembers speaking on behalf of our organization at Broken Clock. Everyone I have spoken to is equally horrified and unable to explain how it could have been misinterpreted. or misunderstood.
After several emails between organizations, including Native News Online, BCBC’s brewery operations manager decided to remove all images and beer from its shelves.
“This entire series is meant to be focused on uplifting marginalized groups, highlighting the often overlooked, and providing opportunity for BIPOC communities,” said BCBC Brewery COO Jeremy Mathison. “Instead, highlighting Ira Hayes created trauma. I’m sorry, this is unacceptable and not ok. We have removed all Ira Hayes images and cans from the marketplace. I don’t know what/if anything can be done to rectify this error, but I’m here to do what is necessary.
Ira Hayes was honorably discharged as a United States Marine Corps Corporal on December 1, 1945 and died on the Gila Pima Indian Reservation on January 24, 1955 from exposure to cold temperatures and a alcohol poisoning. He was buried on February 2, 1955 with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. His life has been commemorated by many in society, including the 2006 Hollywood film Flags of Our Fathers directed by Clint Eastwood and the song “The Ballad of Ira Hayes” made famous by Johnny Cash in 1961.
In no communication, verbal or written, has a spokesperson for either organization shared that the initiative has permission from the families of the people they choose to feature in the series of beers made. by the cooperative.
A meeting has been proposed by the Brewing Change Collaborative and other organizations next week. This is a developing story. This report comes after Native News Online reported on other breweries across the country that use Native American names, images, culture or history.
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