Oui, je suis tr?s susceptible.
French auto manufacturer Renault released a March 11 advertisement in the television magazine Telestar for their "Kangoo" model. The ad, originally published in French, says the car is as silent on the outside as it is on the inside and can go 1,000 kilometers before it needs refueling.
The ad goes on to say the gas mileage is a good thing " because people say the Cheyenne are very touchy." The graphic background is a clay figure of a stereotypical Indian man wearing a loincloth and feathers, with an ear to the ground, whose head has been flattened by the silent new car.
It is not surprising that Renault officials in the United Kingdom and France, including the corporate director of communications, failed to respond to initial inquiries for comment. Pierre Zigmant, a spokesman for Renault, requested more information on the ad and said Renault was "investigating" the situation with its marketing department.
The world has become a small place with the expansion of the Internet and more Native Americans are receiving higher education than ever before ... some of us can actually speak and read French. The executives at Renault who approved this advertisement obviously failed to consider its inherent bigotry, but also failed to realize that American Indians and Indian Country Today have friends and subscribers in France who would bring it to our attention.
The question now is what will Renault do in the form of an apology, especially to the Northern and Southern Cheyenne Tribes. There are several prominent Americans, including Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who are members of either of the Cheyenne Tribes, who are likely to be outraged.