The 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.