A ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Logo for a Native Secret Society
Indian Country Today
Northwest Coast artist Andy Everson is a master of the cultural mashup — ICTMN previously covered his use of Star Wars imagery as a statement on government-to-indigenous treaty politics.
Now he's applied his Native style — his ancestry is K'ómoks and Kwakwaka'wakw — to the logo of the fictional Sons of Anarchy biker gang, from the TV drama of the same name that airs on the FX network.
In Everson's version, the logo belongs to the Sons of Baxwbakwalanuksiwe' — a reference to the monster or deity (depending on how you feel about man-eating giants) central to the Hamatsa secret society.
Everson's image is really cool, from a design standpoint, but it's also got a cultural significance that he'd like to protect. In this age of cultural appropriation, that means he's playing some cultural defense. Although he is offering the image for sale to the public as a limited-edition print, his further plans of putting it on t-shirts or sweatshirts are not quite as open. As he says on his Facebook page:
These will ONLY be for hamatsas. If you are NOT a hamatsa I will NOT give or sell one to you. If you don't know what a hamatsa is, chances are you are not a hamatsa. … I'm sorry to make it so exclusive, but hamatsas have a great deal of responsibility in our culture, so they deserve a little bit of exclusivity for a change.
Given the fanaticism of Sons of Anarchy fans, Everson could probably make money selling Sons of Baxwbakwalanuksiwe' t-shirts to viewers (Native and non-Native) all over the country as curios. But he'd rather keep the image with the people for whom it has meaning.
Come to think of it, his approach is not unlike that of the bikers on the show itself, or any motorcycle gang — if you want a jacket, you have to earn it.