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Indigenous Rock Star Wins Lawsuit Against Aveda

Robby Romero, an Apache rock musician and indigenous rights activist whose band, Red Thunder, is a mainstay on MTV, has won a lawsuit against the cosmetics company Aveda.

In the suit, Romero claimed that Aveda failed to compensate him for its “Indigenous” product line, which Romero developed as a means to raise funds to support grassroots Native American organizations.

The products were made with indigenous, organic, wild materials and essential oils of jojoba, sage, sweetgrass, and rose. Romero secured endorsements from Native American spiritual leaders who attested to their integrity.

Romero told the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in May: “Unfortunately, there are corporations . . . that have been enriched from the use of indigenous peoples’ natural resources, culture, philosophy, creativity, resources, intellectual property, traditional knowledge, images, names, and likeness. And often, those corporations manage to circumvent indigenous peoples’ rights to free, prior, and informed consent and to benefit sharing.”

In February, a jury returned a verdict against Aveda on Romero’s behalf. A second lawsuit alleging that Aveda failed to distribute charitable donations resulting from the product line to indigenous grassroots organizations is pending.

After Romero filed the lawsuit, Aveda continued to market the products, but changed the trademark to Inspiritu.

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