Minnetonka has been a family-run company since its founding nearly 75 years ago. Four generations in, we are proud of the business we have built and humbled by the decades-long loyalty of so many of our customers. However, we would like to directly address two questions that have often been asked of us (rightfully so): Is Minnetonka Native-owned? Does Minnetonka support Native American peoples or causes?
Minnetonka is not a Native-owned business. When we started in 1946, Minnetonka was one of many companies who sold handcrafted moccasins and Native-inspired accessories to roadside gift shops. We recognize that our original products, some of which are still sold today, have been appropriated from Native American culture. This acknowledgement is long overdue, and we apologize for having benefited from selling Native-inspired designs without directly honoring Native culture or communities. While Minnetonka has evolved beyond our original product set, moccasins remain a core part of our brand, and this past summer we began to step up our commitment to the culture to which we owe so much.
For many years, we have privately supported Native causes in our home state of Minnesota — but simply giving back is not enough. We are taking a more active and public stance in supporting Native communities. We intend to move forward in a manner that acknowledges and honors the Native American culture, design, and people who have influenced our brand and business.
We have been listening to and learning from voices in the Native community in order to develop a thorough and thoughtful action plan. We are working closely with Native American advisors, who are providing valuable insight and counsel on our overall plan and the specifics of its execution. Here are the next steps we are taking and insight into where we’re headed:
- Our people: We are making a concerted effort to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion of underrepresented groups at Minnetonka. We are actively recruiting from Native American talent pools and are developing an employee education program to foster greater understanding and appreciation of Native issues.
- Our brand language: Words are powerful in their ability to raise awareness, share knowledge, and broaden perspectives. We have been re-examining the language we use in telling our story and describing our products, and will soon be updating content on our website, our packaging, and other communication channels. Our updates will provide greater transparency and more direct acknowledgment of Native American influence.
- Design collaborations: As a footwear company, our design collaborations provide opportunities for talented artists, designers, and creators to gain broader awareness for their work. We are committed to collaborating with Native artists/designers and are currently exploring potential partners for a future collection.
- Business relationships: We work with a wide range of vendors and suppliers, for everything from footwear materials to packaging to paper products. Whenever possible, we are seeking out Native-owned businesses as potential business partners.
- Philanthropy: Over the years, both the Miller family and Minnetonka have contributed financially toward Native causes. We continue to actively support a number of Native organizations doing important work in Minnesota and beyond.
This is just the beginning of our work and journey in acknowledging and supporting the Native American community. We’re excited to keep forging ahead and we’ll keep you updated on our progress. In the meantime, please feel free to share any questions, comments, concerns or suggestions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for inspiring us to do better.