The Solar Spiral

Published March 3, 2023 by tindertender

In February 1940, in Arizona, some members of the Hopi, Papago, Apache and Navajo tribes signed a commitment by which they waived the use and reproduction of the “solar spiral” because this symbol was very similar to the “gamada cross” that the NSDAP members were using on Germany.

“Therefore, we decide that from this day and forever our tribes renounce the use of this emblem known as Swastica in the making of blankets, baskets, dresses and objects of art.” (Commitment of the Tribes, 1940)

In the following years, between 1940-1960 the Paiute, Ojibwe, Chickasaw, Washo, Colville, Kree, Pequot, Nipmuc, lenape, Illiniwek, Modok, Abenaki, among many others, also stopped using the “solar spiral” in their cultural representations given the stigma that this symbol had for Europeans, Americans and Canadians.

Historian Alison Bernstein points out that they did it as a means of protest over the abuses that the Germans were committing in Europe, but anthropologist John Fox says the Washington government forced them to do so under threats, which the Indians protested noting that the “solar spiral it existed long before the nazis appeared in history.”

.- American Indians and World War II, Alison Bernstein (1999).

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