November 16, 2011; Source: Indian Country Today | Last summer, I wrote a newswire about Kellogg Corporation’s having sent threatening letters to the Mayan Archeology Initiative (MAI), a small nonprofit dedicated to “challenging the repression of cultural heritages.” In dispute was the group’s use of a toucan in its logo.
Kellogg felt that the image was too close to the gaudy “Toucan Sam” of Froot Loops fame. The group’s mission and the fact that the bird is native to areas that are home to Mayan people did not seem to be taken into consideration when Kellogg claimed the bird’s likeness under trademark law. Apparently, the MAI did not think for long about conceding to the pressure. Instead it immediately let the world know what was going on.
At some point, apparently, Kellogg thought better of threatening to sue the group and maybe even felt like it had made a blunder worth paying for, and on November 15 it announced a $100,000 grant to MAI, saying “We are pleased to support the MAI in its mission to protect and extend the rich history and culture of Mayan people.” The MAI will use the grant toward constructing a Maya Cultural Center in Peten.
Additionally, next year the backs of Kellogg Froot Loops boxes will feature major Mayan accomplishments and a link to MAI’s website.
Way to stand up MAI! We sincerely hope that this partnership is good for your work.—Ruth McCambridge