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Duluth, MN - Swastika-Like Tiles at Congdon School Will Stay

Published on: August 20, 2008 06:02 PM
By: Duluth Tribune
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Duluth, MN - Two-by-two-inch tiles bearing a close resemblance to Nazi swastikas will stay in Congdon Elementary School despite concerns raised by some community members.

Built in 1929, Congdon Elementary School and the tiles in question were here four years before the rise of Nazi Germany. The nine tiles are in two Superior Street entrances to the school.

It’s a symbol that’s been around Indian tribes for many years in some cases, said Dr. Bob Powless of the city’s Native American Commission. “It has different meanings. Sometimes people say it’s a good luck symbol. It has absolutely nothing to do with the Nazi symbolism.”

Duluth school officials say this isn’t the first time the resemblance has been brought to their attention. Concerns about the symbol are raised every five or 10 years, they say.

One plan the school district is considering is to put a plaque up somewhere in the school to educate visitors on the significance of the symbol to American Indians.


“I’ve been meeting with some Native American leaders, and they gave me where that symbol coming from and some of the history behind it,” Superintendent Keith Dixon said. “We’re in the education business, and it makes sense to me that we would put up some kind of plaque or something educating people relative to where these tiles come from and what the meaning is.”

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Read Comments (22)  —  Post Yours »


 Aug 20, 2008 at 06:24 PM jewboy Says:

they should be taken down


 Aug 20, 2008 at 06:25 PM anonymous Says:

I don't see that this "good luck" symbol brought good luck to anybody.

This sign is very offensive to the Yiden, Americans, and the disabled. Shame on them for keeping it up.


 Aug 20, 2008 at 06:30 PM Yaakov Says:

The symbol was around long before the Nazis. I've seen it as a border in parquet floors installed over a century ago. I've also heard that is was used by various Indian tribes. We have enough real issues to deal with other than a symbol that was appropriated by the Nazis.


 Aug 20, 2008 at 06:46 PM anon Says:

The symbol was used by Romans Greeks Mesopatamians Tibetans Indians (from India) Ancient Japan and Ancient China - Symbol of the running wheel - long before its direction was reversed and used by Nazi Germany.


 Aug 20, 2008 at 06:50 PM YANKEL tURICH Says:

We have enough zuris over here. Why do we need go looking for some useless symbols on the floor in some hick town near a lake , its insanity


 Aug 20, 2008 at 06:51 PM ShatzMatz Says:

If you notice, these tiles have a reverse swastika. The Nazis used one that was composed of 2 'S's, the Indian one uses 2 'Z's.

No need to get all worked up.


 Aug 20, 2008 at 06:59 PM Anonymous Says:

If you visit some ancient synagogues in Eretz Yisrael, you can see the swastika motif in the tiles on the floor....I have seen this myself and photographed it. It's a shame the Nazis ruined the ancient symbol.


 Aug 20, 2008 at 07:05 PM bigwheeel Says:

But the same group/s DO take offense with the "RED SKINS" Sports team or any other name [like the "CLEVELAND INDIANS" that is not even faintly associated with so much pain and suffering!!!!


 Aug 20, 2008 at 07:05 PM Anonymous Says:

We cannot have the ten commandments in public buildings, or have children say the pledge of allegiance in school, but we can have a swastika in a public school.

True we do have more important issues, but would they have kept a sign that said "White Only Water Fountain"?


 Aug 20, 2008 at 07:07 PM Avrohom Abba Says:

I think it is a Buddhist design and Hitler yimach shmo vezichro, copied it backwards to be different. To me, this school's tiles would only be offensive if they put them there after 1938.
Like this, since it has been there since 1929, I feel they have no kavanah to be offensive at all.


 Aug 20, 2008 at 07:13 PM an Says:

if its a ''plain'' symbol just take it down ,if its up there it might be offensive to some, and if you take it down it might be offensive to none, plain simple take it down its a win win situation


 Aug 20, 2008 at 07:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Where is the Shliach from Chabad?


 Aug 20, 2008 at 09:56 PM Milhouse Says:

This is nonsense. There are swastikas all over; it's a symbol that's been used by everyone, including Jews, for thousands of years, so why should they take it down just because someone in Germany used it? What's that got to do with them? If some anti-Chinese group in Indonesia started using a menorah or a mogen dovid as their symbol, would we stop using it, and rip out old tiles, etc, that had it?


 Aug 21, 2008 at 12:35 AM TRS Says:

In fact, there is a Shliach in Duluth, Rabbi Boruch Greenwald, who's doing a fantastic job up there. I'm sure that he was much too busy dealing with things that actually matter to have anything to do with this article.


 Aug 21, 2008 at 06:30 AM Anonymous Says:

A noose is a recognized good symbol of corporal punishment by a court of law. Those who claim that it is anti-black should be the first to step up to the plate and have this now unambiguous hateful symbol removed.

I'm sure that there are benefactors who would contribute replacement tile, and the labor for installing them.

Volunteers for smashing these ones off the wall are already more abundant than the tiles.


 Aug 21, 2008 at 06:36 AM Anonymous Says:

To Millhouse 9:56 - are you suggesting that this is a religious symbol used for worship by native americans?


 Aug 21, 2008 at 09:19 AM murray Says:

With all the swastika news stories, on this site, it is a daily affair, it seems inevitable that grafitti "artists" will ply thier trade anywhere they can- Now heres one place they won't have to worry about, its already "done"


 Aug 21, 2008 at 09:34 AM Milhouse Says:

The mogen dovid and menorah are not used for worship by us either, but we use them extensively for decoration, and wouldn't rip them out from wherever they appear just because some bad people on the other side of the world decided to use them.

And yes, the swastika is significant to many people, including many American Indian nations. It's even more significant to Jains, who do use it in worship - do you want them to change their religion for you?


 Aug 21, 2008 at 10:00 AM Anonymous Says:

Why do we keep seeing swastikas everywhere? This is not a swastika! It is backwards. It was NEVER intended to be a bad symbol! How dare we tell other people to take down or cover up their architecture or symbols if they were not placed there with evil or negative intent.

Just like that idiot who flew over an Alabama nursing/old age home, and said the building shape looked too much like a swastika, and asked them to tear down part of their building.

That was insanity, and so it this.

Let it stay.

These new-fangled obsessions of our about things that resemble swastikas appears like Jewish hatred.


 Aug 21, 2008 at 10:42 AM murray Says:

And your feelings about the Confederate flag are...
Why did African Americans get in such an outrage over the display of this part of Southern heritage, and historic part of several official state flags. It is because the Rebel flag ("stars n- bars'') became associated with hatred, discrimination, red necks, and trailer trash supremacists. They (the Black leadership) were told "just because some people have mis-used this flag is no reason to discard it"- That argument didn't hold much sway, and I believe the Confederate flag has been mostly removed from most official government entities in the South. Don't you folks see a parrallel here?


 Aug 21, 2008 at 11:26 AM murray Says:

re:anon 6:59- "Nazi's ruined the ancient symbol"- That is precisely the point- That symbol is Forever ruined, for the rest of time. It will forever be associated with death, torture, hatred, that was the Holocaust, never to return to its nobeler former roots. That symbol should Not be used to adorn anything.


 Aug 21, 2008 at 02:45 PM Anonymous Says:

Times Change. Now it's inappropiate. They should remove it.


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