Proposal encourages people to pay for use of Zia

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SANTA FE (KRQE) – It is the center of our state flag and a point of pride for many New Mexicans: the Zia symbol. However, it seems like a lot of other people really like it too, using it on logos and all sorts of products.

There are coffee mugs, keychains and beer cozies, even other flags. Madison, Wisconsin and Wichita, Kansas use the Zia on their city flags.

Sen. Michael Padilla is calling attention to the issue in the Roundhouse.

“It is a beautiful symbol,” said Sen. Padilla (D – Majority Whip). “It’s something we should respect. We should learn how to use it properly, where it should be used and what we should do if it’s not being used properly.”

A memorial that passed last year called for the Department of Cultural Affairs to look into who has the right to use the Zia sun symbol. Ultimately, the answer still isn’t clear.

“Their answer was that it’s inconclusive,” Sen. Padilla said. “The Office of Patents and Trademarks also said it’s a little late to try to patent it at this point.”

The Zia Pueblo believes it found the symbol first on a pot, but the Pueblo claims archeologists visited in 1890 and the pot has been missing ever since.

Sen. Padilla introduced a proposal this week calling on city, county and state agencies, like the New Mexico Tourism Department, to post notices on their websites.

They would ask people to contact the pueblo before using the Zia symbol and let them know they can donate to the pueblo’s Cultural Development fund.

“To help advance the efforts of that pueblo to educate their children, to bring clean drinking water to their pueblo, transportation services and things of the like,” Padilla said.

So, while we still may see everything from Zia shirts to windsocks, the state may do more to encourage people to respect the symbol that has become so sacred to New Mexicans.

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