Opinion: This Christmas, shop Indigenous
- Alyson Bear | December 11, 2018
This Christmas season when thinking of something meaningful and unique to buy your loved ones consider the talented, authentic Indigenous artisans and entrepreneurs in your life. Support Indigenous Businesses and get someone something original to rock in the new year. I personally love to shop Indigenous, from: She Native, Helen Oro Designs, The NTVS The Originals, SECTION 35, Clan Mother Goods and Apparel, B.Yellowtail, Silver Wolf Trading Post and Native American Apparel. Those are just some of the many different Indigenous entrepreneurs and artists to support and including books authored by Indigenous writers and scholars. I am so proud to be able to mention so many and think about how many more are coming up and realizing their potential for transforming pain into the most beautiful art.
I am always rocking a choker, beaded earrings or a Tee whether I am in the board room or just kicking back with family and friends. This is my way of taking up space in public places and supporting one another. Support Indigenous entrepreneurs, businesses and artists, support your friends and family and their dreams and goals. This 2019 is a whole new year to shine and bring our beautiful Indigenous culture back to life and within mainstream society.
It is not always easy trying to walk in both worlds however, I feel pride when I am wearing authentic Indigenous art and showcasing my heritage. Also knowing my money is contributing to local Indigenous artists and businesses instead of big corporations; supporting families and communities who you know appreciate it and need it to continue to flourish.
I dream of a world that represents Indigenous peoples, not just the colonial world. The constant technical advancements and concrete jungles that tend to separate us from each other and the natural world. We must remain connected to the natural laws, the land, the animals, and one another. For a long time, Indigenous peoples have not been reflected in the laws, media or politics that make up Canadian society. It is time to take our rightful place in society, as my dad always says.
Also, you do not just have to be Indigenous to buy and support Indigenous. It is about empowering each other in society and especially those who have been evidently oppressed by the government, including public institutions and this society. In regard to Indigenous injustices and redressing historical wrongs, this is what reconciliation should look like. Empowering Indigenous peoples in all professions.
Cultural appropriation is another issue in society. Ripping off Indigenous culture is also something people need to be able to recognize. People need to understand and acknowledge the real barriers and struggles Indigenous peoples have been faced with within society. Especially if you are using Indigenous culture to promote yourself and your business.
For example, the “Spunky Squaw” boutique ran by a Caucasian settler woman from Texas. Her store and sales were online and she was being called out by Indigenous people across North America. Headdresses are sacred; not simply fashion or a logo and especially wearing a headdress while wearing a shirt that says “fueled by whiskey.” This is derogatory and racist, such misrepresentation continues to fuel negative stereotypes, and normalize the harms and injustices Indigenous peoples face in society. We must stand against ignorant and abusive behavior and be better informed.
It comes down to respect and being respectful to one another and also educating oneself on the realities of this world. Educating the broader community should not only be on Indigenous people’s shoulders or at their expense. This should be something everyone is actively taking part in for the better good of the future for all of our children.
Perhaps buying a friend or family member one of these books for Christmas or the New Year or even making it a new year goal. Here are just a few good book titles in suggestion: Clearing the Plains, Prairie Rising, Indigenous Writes, Black Elk Speaks. Educating oneself and pushing out of comfort zones and is about being able to understand one another in a different light. To continue to evolve and create a more equal and just society for everyone. It is also about empathy and not sympathy, not feeling sorry or guilty but just a feeling of understanding. Therefore, building better relationships together based on understanding rather than misunderstanding one another.
With that it is exam season and the Holiday Season and times are usually stressful so check in with one another and take care of one another. Wishing everyone safe and Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.