Native ‘Swastika’ Raises Eyebrows — And Awareness — at Flea Market in Utah

Courtesy Facebook The Native symbol of swirling logs.

Lynn Cordova

Swirling logs, not the Nazi symbol of hate, was permitted to stay on sale at the Salt Lake City flea market

It’s a symbol of Nazi hate. But it’s also a centuries-old design used by numerous cultures.

In August, a group of protesters took umbrage in Salt Lake City, Utah, at a Flea Market over what they thought was Nazi symbolism on sale.

RELATED: Swastika Day Organizers Point to Symbol’s Native Origins

What they learned was how ubiquitous the geometric design was prior to the Third Reich — that Natives used it, Buddhists used it, and Hindu art is riddled with it.

The flea market’s organizer, Michael Sanders, told the Salt Lake Tribune that he decided not to pull the item “because it would be like saying Native American culture was bad.”

He said the design is instead “a rolling-log motif,” not Nazi memorabilia.

“We don’t allow items like that to be sold,” Sanders said. “We went to look, and I know antiques and I knew exactly what it was when I saw it — a Native blanket with a rolling-log motif.” Nevertheless, amid shouts and demands, the vendor decided to pull the item,” the Tribune reported.

RELATED: Heil to the Redskins! Photo Recalls Racism of NFL Team’s First Owner

In 1943, the Navajo nation “denounced” the symbol after “the U.S. declared war” on Germany. Some have even thought the Diné adopted the symbol from the Nazis, Joyce Begay-Foss, director of the Living Traditions Education Center at the Santa Fe museum, told the Tribune. Instead, she said, she knows, historically for Diné people, it’s an image of rolling logs.

“Unfortunately, it’s a hard thing to explain,” she told the Tribune. “We have to educate people that that symbol can mean so many things to so many people.”

Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith contributed to this report.

Comments

Archives

FEATURED
COMMUNITY