Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

October 19, 2012

GAP e-mailed apology for Manifest Destiny genocide t-shirts


GAP pressed for formal apology, to remove series of colonial t-shirts, and give funds to Leonard Peltier defense
Oct. 16, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO – An AIM Southern California Chapter representative delivered demands to a Gap Communications representative at Gap Headquarters. Gap representative Debbie Mesloh acknowledged that despite media and news claims, no formal apology had been issued. However, by early evening AIM Southern California received an apology e-mail from Mesloh.

            Mari Reprado, a Northern California representative of AIM So Cal, delivered the demands to Mesloh. Mesloh confirmed that although Gap had not yet made an official public apology regarding the controversy, it was working on one. Mesloh reported that the apology would be e-mailed directly to AIM So Cal. Mesloh stated that Gap is no longer selling the “Manifest Destiny” t-shirts online or in stores. Reprado informed Mesloh that there are still three remaining shirts that depict the ideology of Manifest Destiny; featuring the text, “Exploring East-West,” “Onward,” “Roam Free United States of America,” and colonial imagery such as a wagon, US map, and bison. Reprado told Mesloh that until AIM So Cal demands are met, AIM So Cal will continue to endorse and enforce a Gap boycott.

            By early evening, Gap spokesperson Mesloh sent AIM So Cal an apology e-mail titled, “Statement from Gap.” It stated, “We’re sincerely sorry for the offense that the ‘Manifest Destiny’ t-shirt may have caused. This shirt was part of the partnership between Gap and GQ featuring new designers and was never meant to be insensitive. Because of your feedback, we made the decision to no longer sell the t-shirt as soon as it was brought to our attention. The t-shirt has been removed from and we are in the process of removing it from our stores. We are also focusing on how we select product designs for these types of partnerships in the future. Thank you for your continued feedback; we’re always listening.”

            AIM So Cal holds to their original four campaign demands, which require Gap to: 1) Discontinue all four shirts (that glorify westward expansion) and their corresponding advertisements from online and offline sale and promotion; 2) That all money profited from the sale of the four shirts be donated to the legal defense for political prisoner Leonard Peltier, for his freedom and to bring him home; 3) Fire the designer Mark McNairy, and agree to never contract with this designer in the future; 4) Most importantly, that Gap and McNairy issue a public, formal apology, taking full responsibility for the creation, marketing and sales of these shirts.

            The original controversial “Manifest Destiny” shirt promotes an ideology that resulted in the mass genocide of indigenous people. In reaction to the selling of this shirt, AIM So Cal mass communicated the issue to their network of Natives and allies. Shortly after, a UCLA student created a petition that, within 72 hours, has collected over 4,700 signatures, demanding that the shirt be discontinued and that Gap issue a formal apology. has since removed the shirt from online sales, but AIM So Cal is awaiting consistent and complete removal of the shirt in stores. Despite news and media rumors, until Tuesday evening, Gap had not issued an apology; until then, Gap had emailed and tweeted in response to individuals who contacted them, in addition to an email to a writer.

            The current success is only partial, and AIM and non-AIM members continue to join forces. Corine Fairbanks, AIM So Cal Director stated, “We feel that their apology is not enough. We want him [McNairy] fired and other shirts taken out. We understood there are some with ‘Exploring from East to West’ [shirts] and others like that.” AIM So Cal maintains their stance and calls to action all supporters of this cause: to continue the Gap Inc. boycott until AIM So Cal demands are met in entirety. Fairbanks continued, “What you [the designer] did and how Gap endorsed it is not acceptable.”

            For more information on this issue, please contact Corine Fairbanks at (805) 284-4114 or For general information about AIM So Cal, please visit or View the petition link at High resolution photos are available upon request.

MAIN CONTACT: Corine Fairbanks
Director, AIM So Cal
Email: Phone: (805) 284-4114
Public Relations/Media Assistant

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