Three Native American-owned businesses and their associated designers are among the 135 finalists in Crafts, Food, Design, and Style categories in the Martha Stewart-American Made Competition.
The designers are Beyond Buckskin Boutique headed by Jessica Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa), Bethany Yellowtail (Crow) and Kristen Dorsey Designs (Chickasaw). Voting for the American Made Audience Choice Award Winner began September 21, 2015, at 9 a.m. EST and ends on October 19, 2015 at 11:59:59 p.m. EST.
These Native designers and businesswomen are not new to the artistic community, to their fans out in Indian Country or to us here at ICTMN. We have been following their creativity and acknowledging their success in the so-called mainstream society. All too often, Native artists, designers and businesses have not received the attention or traction they need to develop a larger following.
So you would think people in the so-called mainstream of American society, culture and social media would have received an education about Native American Culture? Sadly, the answer is still, mostly NO. Bethany Yellowtail has had her designs copycatted by high-end designers at a NY Fashion Week runway show; there is the endless spectacle of Native head-dresses worn by scantily clad models at fashion shows, photo shoots and concerts; and on-line retail outlets like Etsy.com are notorious for offering so-called Native-inspired designs and trinkets by non-native home craft-makers.
“Native Appropriations” is a byline, byword, buzzword and now a social-media cottage industry that keeps Native folks busy on keeping up with all the rip-offs, knock-offs and basic disrespect of our cultures. So this can be another milestone in a proper, respectful treatment of the work of Native designers and the cultures that inspire them.
Martha Stewart’s American Made should help this recognition process along, just as Project Runway did for Patricia Michaels (Taos Pueblo artist/designer) in 2013. That media event, spread over 2 years, helped spur recognition of Native American designers world-wide.
Jessica Metcalfe told ICTMN, “This is a great opportunity for us to share the extraordinary work of Native artists on a much broader level. We have the opportunity to capture the attention of the American public and share how we are promoting the growth of local economies through celebrating authentic Native American art and design.”
In order to vote, visit the Martha Stewart-American Made website. In order to vote, you must be a registered member of MarthaStewart.com and have a valid e-mail address. Currently, three Native designers are in the Style category. Additionally, Bethany Yellowtail was recently listed in the top twenty “trending” nominees on the site.
The following statements are made by the designers in their profiles in regard to the question, What Does American Made Mean to You?
Jessica Metcalfe – VOTE HERE
Instagram – https://instagram.com/beyondbuckskin/
Beyond Buckskin artists seek to always promote the local, especially as it pertains to advancing traditional Native American artistic practices, designs and materials. The concepts for our designs grow from ancient inspiration points born here on indigenous lands. The materials we use are sourced locally, working with local manufactures, US-made t-shirt blanks, or even using natural materials from the American wilderness, such as porcupine quills, deer hide, natural shell or local copper. The stories Beyond Buckskin artists weave into their work come from the oldest concepts of creation and continuity based here in America. To us, the concept of ‘American Made’ goes back to our first makers – and those items skillfully created by hand, taking advantage of local materials, and coming into being through story. It’s about legacy and setting ourselves apart from the rest of the world by highlighting that which makes us unique through a rich cultural heritage.
Bethany Yellowtail – VOTE HERE
Instagram – https://instagram.com/byellowtail/
Honoring where I came from and weaving that thread through every aspect of how I live. Being raised on my native homelands, I was always told that no matter what I do, it’s my responsibility to help and give back to my people. Nearly 40% of our tribal population is unemployed and living in poverty. Many of our people find solace in creating and selling art. We have some of the world’s most incredible talent, as making clothing and adornment has always been inherent to our people’s way of life. The work I do now enables me to work directly with the communities and native artists that I love. My largest long term goal is to build a partnership and a manufacturing facility on our tribal homelands. To me, American Made means the preservation and continuity of my heritage and all its art forms.
Kristen Dorsey – VOTE HERE
It is important that we honor the craft and traditions of our ancestors by continuing to create our jewelry pieces here on Turtle Island, how Native Americans refer to America. We also support our local economy and contribute to the vibrant artistic culture of our downtown Los Angeles neighborhood. Every piece tells a story and part of that story is the connection that the client has with the hands that designed and constructed their piece. We love showing our customers the techniques used in each piece and how the construction and materials connect to Chickasaw culture. For example, I use the same native copper sourced from the Great Lakes region that my Chickasaw ancestors traded for and used in their adornment. We also source ethically and environmentally friendly materials whenever possible like conflict-free diamonds and recycled shell. I love working with local small businesses because that way I know where the gemstones are from and if they are socially responsible.
Good Luck to these brilliant, creative and awesome Native women! And don’t forget to VOTE!