The Zia symbol has become the symbol of New Mexico. Many New Mexicans wear it proudly on their clothes, hats and even skin. But it really belongs to the Zia Pueblo, and now one New Mexico business is making sure they benefit from its use.
The Zia is one of the things New Mexico is known for, it’s what makes New Mexico’s flag. It comes from the Zia Pueblo and represents the tribe’s philosophy and spiritualism with the universe.
Nowadays, the Zia is everywhere: socks, post cards, baseballs, patches, mugs, teddy bears and even drinks. There’s no escaping the Zia in New Mexico, but there’s been a long fight over it’s use.
“We didn’t want to use it without permission, we wanted to make sure we honored their tribe,” said Organ Mountain Outfitter’s owner Chris Lang.
The company, a Las Cruces based store, said the Zia people hardly get the credit or economic return they deserve from the Zia. They asked the tribe if they could use the sign on clothes and in return, give something back.
“The 10 percent of our gross sales will go towards their youth foundation,” said Lang.
The foundation helps kids on the Pueblo, but that’s just part of the agreement. Lang will help teach kids there how to screen print clothes and set up an online store to be the official sellers of Zia products.
“The symbol has been in the public domain for over 40 years, it was never trademarked originally so it’s nearly impossible to protect it from a trademark standpoint here going on forward,” said State Senator Michael Padilla, D-14.
Senator Padilla has been fighting to protect the Zia and make sure the Pueblo gets some say in its use, because there’s a lot of history there.
“And they will advise them on exactly how to use it, what it means and what is the most appropriate way to use it so I encourage all New Mexicans to love it, hug it, own it and take care of it,” said Senator Padilla.
Organ Mountain Outfitters said its partnership with the Zia Pueblo will last for about 10 years. A shipment of their Zia clothes will be shipped to Spur Line Company in Albuquerque next week.