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Half Acre Changes Name Of Heyoka Pale Ale After Discussion With Native American Groups

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jan 6, 2015 7:00PM

2015_1_senita_half_acre_non_blurry.png Half Acre Beer Co. announced they were changing the name of their award-winning Heyoka India Pale Ale after a concerted campaign from Native American groups about the use of the word “heyoka.”

To the Lakota Native American tribe, a “heyoka” is a contrarian or satirist who reacted opposite to the people around him. Heyoka are integral to developing tribal rules and plays a sacred part in medicine ceremonies by pushing the very boundaries of the codes they help establish. Half Acre founder Gabriel Magliaro said he had the best intentions when the brewery named the IPA “Heyoka” but many Native Americans felt it was inappropriate to name an alcoholic beverage after a person sacred to their culture.

The campaign was spearheaded by the advocacy group AIM (American Indian Movement) whose general counsel, Walter “Graywolf” Ruiz, told the Tribune’s Josh Noel, "Considering the devastation alcohol has caused for native people, it was a slap in the face. It was like naming a beer after the pope, or Jesus beer."

"People just don't understand our culture and traditions, and they take certain aspects without thinking," he said. "That's what happened in this case. It wasn't intentional. When we explained the situation to them, they were very in favor of changing it."

Magliaro announced on Half Acre’s blog the new name of the beer is “Senita,” after a cactus native to southwestern Arizona. Magliaro wrote:

We had the opportunity to have many conversations and exchanges that landed in a very positive place. In the end, this has been a huge learning experience for Half Acre, and we’re pleased to respect the wishes of the Lakota people. We also feel the name Senita reflects the vibes we’ve always looked for when mapping out this beer and its identity.

Half Acre is replacing tap handles in bars across the city and launching the beer with the new “Senita”-branded packaging this week.