Red Crayon Gets New Identity

Crayola is changing the name of its "indian red" crayon to avoid misunderstandings over the color's origin.

Crayola says "indian red" was based on a reddish-brown pigment commonly found near India. But the manufacturer has gotten complaints from teachers who say students think the color has to do with American Indians. "Little children take words and names very literally," said Louise Cosgrove, an art teacher in Allentown, Pa. "To them, they think 'indian red' is the color of a Native American's skin."

"If it confuses children, it's something that should be re-evaluated," said Crayola spokeswoman Tracey Muldoon Moran. "It's easy enough for us to remedy the situation by renaming the crayon." The name change is only the third in the 96-year history of Crayola.

In 1958, "prussian blue" was renamed "midnight blue" because teachers said students were no longer familiar with Prussian history. In 1962, "flesh" was changed to "peach" to recognize that "everyone's skin tone is not the same," Ms. Moran said.

The most recent name change "underscores the American public's growing sensitivity to images and symbols that have been perceived as offensive to Native Americans and more importantly to native children," said JoAnn K. Chase, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians.

Indian red debuted in the Crayola lineup in 1958, when the 64-crayon box was introduced. Suggestions for the new name will be accepted over the next three months.

By Jennifer Brown