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Related Case - Liz Claiborne

Liz Claiborne, a New York based designer company, started a line of clothing called "Crazy Horse" which it sold through retailer J.C. Penney. Descendants of Crazy Horse have been lobbying the company to stop using the name on its clothing line, but their efforts have proven to be fruitless. The company issued a statement, saying "We have never used native American imagery or iconography, and we never will" (Belsie). The company offered to make changes to the fashion line, but refused to drop the name completely. It stated, "Lack of response to our good-faith efforts was highly discouraging" (Belsie). Ironically, Claiborne had faced similar challenges in the past from Muslims, when the company released a clothing-line of jeans with Koran scripture on the back pockets. Yet, in that case, Claiborne agreed to remove the jeans from stores, and to burn them as demanded by Muslim leaders.
While Liz Claiborne refused to drop the Crazy Horse label from its fashion line, Calvert Social Investment Funds took the matter into its own hands. In October 2002, Calvert Social Investment Funds eliminated all Liz Claiborne stock from its portfolios, in response to Claiborne's unwillingness to understand the importance of the Crazy Horse issue. "With respect to indigenous people's rights, Calvert's policy is to be concerned about the security and survival of indigenous peoples around the world. Companies operating on or directly impacting the land of indigenous peoples should support appropriate economic development that respects indigenous territories, cultures, environment and livelihoods" (http://www.crazyhorsedefense.org/menu6c.html). Calvert will not invest in companies that have a pattern and practice of violating the rights of indigenous peoples. Calvert seeks to invest in companies that:

  • Respect the land, sovereignty, natural resource rights, traditional homelands, cultural heritage, ceremonial and sacred sites of indigenous peoples,

  • Adopt and implement guidelines that include dealing with indigenous peoples. These guidelines may encompass, among others, respecting the human rights and self-determination of indigenous peoples, and securing prior informed consent in any transactions including the acquisition and use of indigenous peoples' property, as well as intellectual property,

  • Support the positive portrayals of indigenous peoples, including American Indians and other indigenous or ethnic peoples, and their religious and cultural heritage.

Although some companies are beginning to take a socially responsible role in their business practices, the goal of business is higher profit margins. It is unclear whether social responsibility will spread or if Liz Claibourne will drop the Crazy Horse Name.

Belsie, L. (2002). Corporations lend an ear to Indian issues. The Christian Science Monitor. Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society.

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This page last updated on: Friday, 20-Oct-2006 13:15:19 EDT