Above: Organ Mountain Outfitters and the Zia Pueblo team up to create this beautiful Zia-centered apparel line. Photograph by Organ Mountain Outfitters.
After fielding countless questions from customers about why he didn’t have apparel with the Zia symbol, Chris Lang, owner of Las Cruces–based Organ Mountain Outfitters, finally devised a plan to seek permission from Zia Pueblo’s leadership. In exchange for reprinting the symbol on some of the store’s merchandise, Lang would give 10 percent of the profits to Zia Pueblo’s Youth Scholarship Program.
“I just wanted to be respectful to the pueblo,” Lang says, “to get their blessing, because the symbol is meaningful to them.” While most New Mexicans know the connection the sun symbol bears to the tribe, they have little idea that it is sacred and was used without their permission.
Lang’s agreement to sell merchandise with the symbol represents a step forward in the tribe’s effort to address the history of cultural appropriation. In the long term, he plans to open an Albuquerque location with classes aimed at teaching screen printing and embroidering techniques to the tribe.
By the time his agreement is up, Lang hopes that Zia Pueblo will be the only source for sun symbol merchandise.