This screen shot taken from the Urban Outfitters website shows a pair of Navajo Hipster Panties.
This screen shot taken from the Urban Outfitters website shows a pair of Navajo Hipster Panties.
FARMINGTON — At $8 per pair or $25 for five, anyone with Internet access can own the Navajo Hipster Panty, a product of Urban Outfitters Corporation.

But the Navajo Nation is demanding Urban Outfitters pull the panty and 22 other Navajo-themed products from shelves.

That includes the more benign woven bracelets and fringe-covered bags to products that are triggering complaints among native people, such as the panty or the Navajo print fabric-wrapped liquor flask.

Though arguably disrespectful, the product line, which also includes a variety of shoes, socks, gloves, jackets, oversized T-shirts, hats, jewelry and accessories, is drawing ire from the tribe because of alleged trademark violations.

This comes at a time when American Indian-inspired clothing and accessories are everywhere: from feather hair extensions to vests and jackets covered in the geometric designs common in American Indian arts and crafts.

The Navajo Nation holds at least 10 trademarks on its name, covering clothing, footwear, online sales, household products and textiles, The Associated Press reported.

The tribe is accusing Urban Outfitters of violating those trademarks.

The Navajo Department of Justice in June sent Urban Outfitters a cease-and-desist letter, demanding that the company pull the Navajo name from its products.

The tribe has not received a response, prompting the department to make a public statement Thursday.


"Because the Navajo Nation's request was only very recent, the Urban Outfitters Corporation has obviously not had the opportunity to respond regarding this matter," a letter circulated by Department of Justice attorney Brian Lewis states. "Accordingly, the Nation is cautiously optimistic that it can discuss this issue with the Urban Outfitters Corporation and convince it to adopt another name and trademark for its products."

The department is calling the clothing retailer's decision to market Navajo-themed products, whether intentional or unintentional, "unauthorized and unprivileged."

Federal laws, such as the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, prohibit non-Indians from marketing and selling products by using American Indian names or designs. The Navajo name is one of the tribe's most cherished elements, Lewis's letter states.

"When products that have absolutely no connection to the Navajo Nation, its entities, its people and their products are marketed and retailed under the guise that they are Navajo in origin, the Navajo Nation does not regard this as benign or trivial," Lewis said. "It takes appropriate action to maintain distinctiveness and clarity of valid name-association in the market and society."

Urban Outfitters said it has not heard from the tribe and that it has no plans to alter its product line.

"Like many other fashion brands, we interpret trends and will continue to do so for years to come," company spokesman Ed Looran told The Associated Press. "The Native American-inspired trend and specifically the term Navajo' have been cycling through fashion, fine art and design for the last few years."

The Navajo Nation has not yet signaled a desire to seek legal action against the clothing store.

Urban Outfitters operates retail stores in 36 states, several European nations and ships to locations worldwide.

Navajo-themed socks are being sold at Urban Outfitters online for $7 per pair. T-shirts run around $30 each. The flask costs $18, while Navajo-inspired jackets run as high as $350 each.