Spirit and Animal becomes Corvus and Co. following name controversy with soon-to-open bar

12105841_1244887468858894_6998415430795895922_nThe owners behind a forthcoming Capitol Hill bar have once again renamed their venture in response to criticism that their first two takes on a name were offensive to Native Americans.

In a Facebook mea culpa, owners Paul Berryman and business partner Izzy Guymon announced Monday they have renamed Spirit and Animal to Corvus and Co. — a reference to the genus of birds that includes crows and ravens.

It’s the second name change for the bar, slated to open next month at Broadway and Mercer, which had originally been called Spirit Animal. Popular use of the term has been denounced in the past for its problematic appropriation of Native American culture, which was pointed out to the bar owners via social media.

In response, Berryman and Guymon added an ‘and’ to the bar name in an effort to distance themselves from the controversial term and closer align “spirit” to its boozy definition. But when the Spirit and Animal sign went up last month at the longtime home of The Byzantion Greek restaurant, many complained it was still too reminiscent of the controversial term.

“While well intended, we were naive and didn’t comprehend the pain and frustration for people who have long dealt with having their heritage misrepresented and used by non-First Nation people,” said the owners in a Facebook post. “We now understand that this is a form of oppression that we most definitely did not intend or want to be a part of.”

The owners said they will switch out the sign before opening next month, though the raven is likely to stay given the corvus name. The owners also said it is representative of their combined Scandinavian and Celtic heritage.

CHS reported last September on the purchase of The Byzantion after 30 years of business and Berryman and Guymon’s plans for a “mystical” food and drink spot on the north end of Broadway. “I think this end is going to have a little bit of a renaissance,” Berryman said at the time. “It feels more like a neighborhood than an entertainment district.”

Here is Corvus and Co.’s full statement on the name change:

First and most importantly, we want to apologize to those we have hurt and offended, specifically Native people. With the help of some of you we have discovered that our intentions, although meant sincerely, were not enough to address the issue of appropriation.

We have decided once again to change our name, removing both the words “Spirit” and “Animal”. It will take some time for the new sign, etc, so we ask that you be patient and see our good intentions for what they are. We are listening.

While well intended, we were naive and didn’t comprehend the pain and frustration for people who have long dealt with having their heritage misrepresented and used by non-First Nation people. We now understand that this is a form of oppression that we most definitely did not intend or want to be a part of. Please know that we want each and every person in our community to feel welcomed, safe and respected in the space we are creating. We hope you will see this name change as an open invitation to come by and see what we are about and who we are once we are open.

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14 thoughts on “Spirit and Animal becomes Corvus and Co. following name controversy with soon-to-open bar

  1. Now what I really wonder is if any Native People were hurt by this, or just some self-righteous people who wanted to have something to say? If the former is true, then by all means, it should have been changed I suppose.

  2. Dear Spirit and Animal,

    Clever name, I really like it. Sorry, though, unless you agree with me and my world view 100% I will posture to have the ability to ensure that you can’t do business.
    This is our legal version of the cultural Marxism that some call political correctness.
    You will only speak the way we allow you to speak, or, you won’t be allowed to speak.

    Sincerely,
    Seattle

    • “You will only speak the way we allow you to speak, or, you won’t be allowed to speak. ”

      Wow, it’s like you ALMOST understand cultural oppression. And yet totally miss the point.

      Good for the owners of this bar for understanding and acting, even if it took them a couple of tries.

  3. Leave it to a bunch of, presumably, white men to minimize the pain of nearly 500 years of genocide perpetrated on the native people’s of the Americas.

    Don’t you have some wives or girlfriends to beat up? Oh, I’m sorry, that’s not very politically correct of me.

  4. Was about to go out for Taco Tuesday but decided that I didn’t want to appropriate anyones culture. Now I’m at home eating a jar of mayonnaise and wonder bread becaue I don’t want to offend anybody. Please help

  5. Aside from the cultural considerations (which are entirely valid), “Corvus and Co.” is simply a better name. “And Animal” is an awkward phrase to enunciate.

  6. Nicely done! Hooray to Berryman and Guymon for the effort they have made. They not only invested money, but also took design time to demonstrate they are really looking to create an inclusive venue in our neighborhood.
    Linda Foley