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Gifts that support Native American art and culture

July 24, 2021, 1:00 PM UTC

I wrote this list on Chumash land in Southern California, a showcase of Native American brands that honor heritage, culture, land, and spirit. These products are modern but bring attention back to old traditions and thought. They embody ancient wisdom and modern Indigenous ways of life.

With upcycled hats and apparel, quilts emblazoned with centuries-old patterns, and wood-carved jewelry, each brand holds reverence for Native America, past and present.

Courtesy of Modern Ancient Design

Modern Ancient Design: Owner Porfidia Bueke handmakes jewelry with the idea of living as one with nature. With that in mind, her creations are crafted sustainably with natural materials, like reclaimed wood, renewable fabrics, and recycled pieces where possible. Designs bring forward ancient knowledge, such as the Hippocrates Antler Necklace adorned with the Native American Medicine Wheel, reminding us to “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Suggested Retail Price: $175 for the necklace.

Courtesy of Thunder Voice Hat Company

Thunder Voice Hat Co.: The Navajo brim hat has spanned generations, and Thunder Voice Hat Co. carries on its lineage with upcycled hats sourced from various walks of life—antique stores, garage sales, or those selling family heirlooms. They are steam cleaned, saged, and reshaped to bring on its new life. Bands are made from repurposed leather (saddle straps or bags, for example) and accessorized with crystals, feathers, old coins, and other adornments tied directly to the owner and founder Thunder Voice Eagle’s ancestry. In addition to apparel, he also recreates iconic artworks to depict the Native American perspective of well-known scenes, such as Grant Wood’s 1930s “American Gothic.” The intention behind this isn’t to change history but to create a better future.  SRP: Hats begin at $725 and are released every Wednesday (get there fast; they sell out quickly). Custom hats are also available and start at $1,200.

Courtesy of Ginew

Ginew: Led by husband and wife Erik Brodt and Amanda Bruegl, Ginew (Gih-noo) is the only Native American-owned denim line in America, drawing from their Ojibwe, Oneida, & Mohican heritages. Each of its products (jeans, bandanas, jackets, and coats) incorporate family symbols and teachings, using high-quality materials, such as selvage denim, wax canvas, and Pendleton® wool blanket fabric. The Wax Rider Canvas Coat commemorates Brodt’s grandfather, who commuted from the Mohican Indian Reservation to weld for Harley Davidson in the 1960s-70s. As an homage to him, the coat is built to honor his values: resilience, bravery, honesty, dedication, strength, and toughness. Considering the coat’s durability, Ginew dares its customers to “try to wear it out.” SRP: Wax Rider coats start at $595 and are available in brown, navy, and charcoal grey.

Courtesy of Trickster Company

Trickster Company: Trickster Company is an indigenous-owned streetwear company founded by siblings Rico and Crystal Worl. As active advocates of diversity in their community, they say their “designers strive to represent the way in which traditionally rooted people represent themselves in modern context and fashion.” Their mission is to represent modern indigenous life today and create items non-native people can appreciate without appropriating via cultural exchange. Products range from apparel to playing cards and sporting goods that encourage wellness and connection to mind, body, and spirit. The company began selling skateboards, and this longboard is designed by Crystal with a traditional formline. SRP: $140 for the deck.

Courtesy of Indigo Arrows

Indigo Arrows: Destiny Seymour is an Anishinaabe interior designer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Indigo Arrows Line reflects patterns from ancient pottery collections and bone tools of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba, including her Anishinaabe ancestors. Most antiquated artifacts like this are displayed in museums; however, their patterns are exhibited throughout Seymour’s table linens, pillows, and blankets. This knit throw, called Ishkoday, which means flint rock in Anishinaabemowin, measures 50-by-60 inches and is made of 100% Egyptian cotton. SRP: $225 for the throws; $365 for the quilts that use Woodland pottery patterns dating back to 1000-1350 AD.

Courtesy of Makwa Studio

Makwa Studio: As a textile artist and designer, founder Maggie Thompson draws inspiration from her Ojibwe heritage in her fine artwork and knitwear. Based in Minnesota, Makwa Studio hand-looms luxury yarns to create high-quality cowls, beanies, and hooded scarves. Makwa is passionate about creating goods that exemplify the discussion and presence of contemporary Native art and fashion. SRP: Cowls range from $84 to $92; hooded scarves $140 to $160; and beanies $56 to $60.

4Kinship: Amy Yeung, whose Navajo heritage stems from the Bisti Wilderness-Chaco Canyon region, shifted from high, fast fashion in Los Angeles to sustainable design in Santa Fe where she designs clothes to honor and protect sacred land. Her company, 4Kinship, offers handmade, restored and repurposed, and upcycled garments. Some signature styles include vibrantly hand-dyed surgical gowns, military flysuits, and sundresses. In addition to her art and design, Yeung dedicates time to helping Indigenous communities. One current project is constructing the Diné Skate Garden in New Mexico, a safe space for youth to gather and build strength and resilience. SRP: $250 for the gown

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