Land O’ Lakes Retiring the Native American Illustration From Packaging

Land O’ Lakes introduced new packaging that no longer includes the illustration of a Native American woman named Mia that they have used since the 1920s.  

According to Land O’ Lakes, the new packaging has already started to appear on tub butter spreads, foodservice products and deli cheese, and will begin appearing on stick butter in spring/summer 2020.  

“As Land O’Lakes looks toward our 100th anniversary, we’ve recognized we need packaging that reflects the foundation and heart of our company culture—and nothing does that better than our farmer-owners whose milk is used to produce Land O’Lakes’ dairy products,” said Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes in a press release. The Minnesota-based company is a cooperative of dairy farmers.  

Minnesota’s Lieutenant governor Peggy Flanagan also happens to be a citizen of the  White Earth Nation of Ojibwe. In February 2020 Flanagan received a leadership award from the “The National Congress of American Indians”  for being the highest-ranking Native American woman elected to executive office in US history.  

“Thank you to Land O’Lakes for making this important and needed change. Native people are not mascots or logos. We are very much still here.” Flanagan Tweeted  

Mia’s image evolved over the years. The most recent version was designed by Patrick DesJarlait, an Ojibwe artist from Red Lake Minnesota who worked for numerous advertising agencies early in his career. He is also known for creating the “Hamm’s Bear” for Ham’s Brewery.    

“I have mixed feelings,” Robert DesJarlait, DesJarlait’s son and also an artist told the Minnesota  Star Tribune. “I’m sad to see it go, but I can understand why it’s gone. We live in a politically correct time, so maybe it was time to get rid of it. It certainly devolved into a stereotype.” 

“But in our family, my dad’s work is a source of pride for us. He broke barriers as an Ojibwe artist from Red Lake. Back then, you didn’t find native people in those kinds of jobs, and this gave him the opportunity to put his spin on a well-known native image.” 

The New York Times” reported that Kevin Allis, the chief executive of the “National Congress of American Indians,” saw the Land O’ Lake packaging change as a positive move.  

He said, “We encourage all companies that peddle products displaying stereotypical Native ‘themed’ imagery to follow suit. Americans need to learn the truth about the beauty and diversity of tribal nations, peoples and cultures today and discarding antiquated symbols like this are a step in the right direction.”  

By Sam Sied