Meet Jared Yazzie, founder and artist behind the Native owned brand OXDX Clothing. Jared started designing in 2009 and became a full fledged brand a few years later. The line features clothing with artistic and meaningful designs, created mostly by Jared himself with a few artist collaborations here and there. I got to ask Jared a few questions and came away enlightened not only on the inspiration behind his brand, but on his passion for his community and some of the many issues they face.
Just the fact that we’re still walking around and existing is one of the biggest misconceptions that allows people to appropriate Native culture. We’re still here- we’re still on the reservations where the government forced us from our original homelands. -Jared Yazzie
Jared on the passion behind OXDX:
I was trying to create something that represented myself. Nothing really represented the struggles that Indigenous people face and I wanted to fill that void. Native communities are built on traditional protocol… the properness of tradition and how it’s carried out is very important to us. Native business carries on that way of doing things, it represents culture and tradition.
On misconceptions about the Native culture:
Just the fact that we’re still walking around and existing is one of the biggest misconceptions that allows people to appropriate Native culture. We’re still here- we’re still on the reservations where the government forced us from our original homelands. We are the forgotten culture. More Native American women go missing than any other ethnic group in this country, but that isn’t common knowledge. The rate of police violence against Indigenous people is alarmingly high, but you never hear about it in the news. Native Americans have the highest rate of suicide among ethnic groups because we are dehumanized on a regular basis. The best thing we can do right now is show people that we’re still here.
On the preservation of Indigenous generations:
We’re kind of on a timeline at this point- our grandparents ONLY knew Native language and traditions. Then there was our parents generation where tradition was basically beaten out of them. They were shamed for speaking Native languages in school they were taught not to embrace they’re culture. We are the generation that is trying to bring it back, which is difficult because a lot will be lost regardless. A Native language is lost every year, and that loss is damaging to us as a whole.
On Native issues that need more awareness:
The Indigenous people are by nature and tradition land keepers… water keepers. The disregard of our land and water sources is not only affecting our communities directly, but it’s contributing to global warming as a whole. There is a connectivity between Native people and their land. Native teachings are rooted in the belief that Mother Earth takes care of us, and it is our duty to protect her in return. All of us Native business owners are very connected to these issues. It goes deep for us because there are so many things happening daily to our people, our traditions, our land that we have to see every day.
Words and interview by: Sarah Isely