Not that long ago thousands took a stand with the Native Americans of Standing Rock to try and make a difference. It may not have halted the pipeline for good, but what it did do was give hope to the Native community. Hope that there is a possibility to bring real awareness to the many issues they’ve faced for decades, to quote Jared Yazzie of OXDX Clothing, one of the big ones being that they are simply forgotten. Now as we’re nearing the end of Native American Heritage month it begs the question, what can we do to make sure that what happened at Standing Rock on behalf of the Indigenous community doesn’t die, but continues to make progress in other areas?
For starters, instead of giving our money to manufacturers knocking off an entire culture with Native inspired designs, we can stand with the Indigenous community by channeling those dollars towards actual Native owned brands.. because yes they exist, and yes, they do Native fashion better than anyone else. You can support “Inspired Native” entrepreneurs while giving the most unique gifts to the loved ones on your list- gifts that embody art, passion, preservation and truly handcrafted goodness.
While researching Native owned brands I had the honor of interviewing the founders of some of my favorites finds. I fell in love with the products even more after I got to personally meet the people behind them, hear the reasons they do what they do and how they’re forging new paths while preserving history. One of the beautiful things about the Native entrepreneur community is the support they all offer each other, it’s not a competition but rather a group of incredible artists and people collaborating to lift each other up. Be sure to read the interviews, they will enrich your life whether you buy or not.
For the classy bohemian- LL Designs Moccasins
Price range: $110-$400 **USE PROMO CODE Moc25 TO GET 25% OFF YOUR ORDER THRU 12/31/17
BONUS: For the kids
Price range: $75-$185
LL also has a line of kid moccs and you can’t dream up a better way to keep your littles' feet comfy and well protected than these “made with love” toe protectors
For the sports enthusiast- Trickster Company
Price range: $3-$120
Have that family member that longboards everywhere, or the cousin that rallies the whole crew for a basketball game no matter what the temp is outside? The brother/sister owned brand Trickster puts a unique spin on the classic sports gear, with original art that represents their Native culture in everyday products. When you gift their gear, you’re giving a piece of art as well as something they’ll really use over and over again. Their offering isn’t limited to sports gear either. You can find a variety of gift ideas ranging from jewelry, to pillows, to coasters, all in original vibrant designs, most of them by the founders themselves, Rico and Crystal Worl. Read more on how this sibling brand evolved, and their mission to stay present and traditional at the same time, on our Behind The Brand feature here.
For the inspired inquisitive- Not Above Jewelry
Price range: $80-$455 **SELECT ITEMS ON SALE THRU MONDAY 11/27/17
Do you have that friend that can’t get enough of the inspirational jewelry trend? Take inspirational to the next level with one of Nanibaas hand sawn, one of a kind "original language" necklaces. Not only are they filled with beautiful words, they’re written in Dine’ (Navajo), one of the most intricate, well preserved languages in the world. Her designs are the perfect blend of fresh & modern with the richness of tradition, and every piece comes with meaning. One of my personal favorites- the ‘il hózhó bar necklace that translates to: "happiness; joy; blessedness; prosperity” Don’t miss out on the Behind The Brand feature on Nanibaa, this one is for ALL the women.
For the hat lover- Urban Native Era
Price range: $20-$50
Have that hipster in the fam that covers their full head of envy provoking hair with a hat at all times? Enable them. An Urban Native Era original art hat will be their favorite gift when they find out the unique story behind it, plus you can almost guarantee none of their friends will be wearing one, and that’s pure gold in hipster style. The Urban Native Era “diverse culture” logo just looks cool, but there is so much more to it than looks when you read the mission and the inspiration behind the brand name. Be sure to find out more in my interview with founder Joey Montoya to understand just how cool this gift actually is.
For the statement maker- OXDX Clothing
Price range: $22-$80
OXDX is for the member of your crew that cares about what they wear and what it represents. featuring bold designs and colors, each piece is more than just clothing. It’s designed by founder Jared Yazzie himself to makes a statement and increase awareness to Native issues. His Culture Censored and Tourist Trap tees tell a story that goes much deeper than a fashion statement. By wearing OXDX whether of Native descent or not, you’re helping spread awareness for a culture that has been appropriated for far too long while rocking some straight up dope designs. Read more about Jared and his passion for Native issues on our Behind the Brand feature here
For the homebody- Eighth Generation
Price range: $10-$205
This may be one of your friends, or it may just be you.. either way these cozy blankets all come in original designs by “Inspired Natives” and make a perfect gift for anyone that doesn’t think it gets better than a night of Netflix and chill... in a warm blanket. Each time you curl up in one, you’re wrapping yourself in the warmth of a carefully crafted piece of rich traditional art and cultural weaving methods. BONUS: 5% of all blanket sales support the Inspired Natives Grant for emerging arts entrepreneurs. The Eighth Generation brand also has a wide offering of other artist designed products including wooden artisan phone cases that will turn heads everywhere you go. Because of their true wood construction, no two cases are the same.
“Inspired Natives” is a term coined by founder Louie Gong himself to change the way people view Native products. For years manufacturers have made money exploiting Native designs using the term “native inspired”. Louie wanted to bring attention to the difference between the appropriation caused by “native inspired” products, and the quality goods and art created by “Inspired Native” entrepreneurs... as well as the struggles they face to bring those handmade goods to market in this over manufactured world. I didn’t get a chance to interview Louie, but many of the other Native brand owners referenced his movement.