Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America

December 30, 2000 - Issue 26


Rocky Pins Down His Olympic Message

Navajo artist to design emblem:

'Strength Through Diversity'


Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson has an important message and a space only the size of a quarter on which to present it.

Tradition holds that mayors of Olympic host cities have a few personalized lapel pins on hand to pass along as mementos to dignitaries and other guests during the Games.

Anderson's Olympic calling card?

" 'Strength Through Diversity,' " he says. "As a community, I don't think we've always acknowledged our diversity or importance of having diversity in our community and the strength we can draw from it."
To help him convey his message, Anderson chose Navajo artist Cal Nez to design the pins. They come in three varieties.

One depicts the City-County Building where Anderson's offices are housed. The others are more personal, Nez says.

The first has the mayor's name and the words "Strength Through Diversity" circling a design that incorporates components of a Navajo wedding basket interlocked in a star shape. The second is a rock-art depiction of the mayor's hand with the words "Strength Through Diversity" arching across the top and five colors representing various ethnic communities found in Salt Lake City. The designs complement the snowflake logo used by the Salt Lake Organizing Committee which also borrows from American Indian culture.

"I wanted the design to say 'from my hand to yours,' because these are personal gifts from the mayor," Nez says, describing the pins. "The star in the other pin uses elements of a Navajo wedding basket which is used in a lot of ceremonies to signify that many things, teachings and philosophies of life spring from that basket."

This is the second go-round for Anderson's pins. He rejected an earlier design of the City-County Building created by a pin company, saying it was "awful."

Navajo artist Cal Nez uses a computer in designing the logo for Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson's personal pins to be distributed for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
(Ryan Galbraith/The Salt Lake Tribune)

The mayor collected a number of similar pins while attending the Sydney Olympics but says "they didn't mean much to me." He hopes that by commissioning his own pins that will not be the case for those who visit him in Salt Lake.

Anderson says he has been familiar with Nez's work for some time, having met him a few years ago at the annual Native American in the Park Day several years ago. Nez's wife, Yolanda, also works in Anderson's office.

Nez, who grew up in Arizona and Utah, has done traditional designs for the Smithsonian Institution's brochures on its American Indian collection, as well as contemporary logos for one of Gov. Mike Leavitt's political campaigns. He has a studio in downtown Salt Lake City.

"He has a genuine commitment to helping people understand Native American cultures," Anderson says.

From the SLOC logo to the few hints organizers have given about the Opening Ceremony and cultural backdrop of the Games, it appears American Indian culture is becoming a large theme of the 2002 Games.

Anderson says it is historically and geographically appropriate to feature American Indian motifs.

"Not only that, but Native American symbolism conveys a lot of what we'd like people to take away from these Games," he says.

A limited number of host city and Anderson's personal pins will be made. Anderson's policy-makers are determining procedures for passing out the pins, who has the authority to give them away and who will receive them.

Meet Cal Nez



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