(Gyasi’s Note: I love Dr. Jessica. She does her work simply because she loves Native people; as a result of her love of Native people, she tries to help Native people. I begged her to write an article for The Thing About Skins to talk about her proactive approach to helping Native businesses. I’m thankful that she did, and I hope that all of us will take her up on her challenge to help the Native economy by buying some Holiday gifts from other Native people. As a further challenge, I ask all of you to please purchase something during this upcoming weekend—the biggest weekend for shopping all year—from one of the vendors on Dr. Jessica’s list, below.)
I want to take this opportunity to talk with you about the upcoming six weeks, and how important we can make them when it comes to economic development in Indian Country.
During the holidays we spend billions of dollars on gifts and decor. A lot of that money goes to huge companies (Walmart and Apple come to mind). A lot of these huge companies outsource their jobs, and little of that money actually trickles down to the workers who produce the items. Several companies also use sweatshops (such as Nike, click here for a partial listing of companies down with sweatshoppin').
We have buying power. We have the power, with the money we spend, to see change here in our local economies, and to see change worldwide. It just depends on where we decide to put our money.
That's why I'm reaching out to you guys to help me in a campaign to BUY NATIVE this holiday season.
I'm going to be writing on my blog, Beyond Buckskin, about my personal goal to buy only Native-made gifts, or items bought from Native-owned companies, etc, with the goal of maximizing the amount of money going to Native businesses.
The first post, which launched on Monday, offered an initial list of our favorite Native-run places to shop (artists' sites, physical stores, and online sites). You can find that list by clicking here (http://beyondbuckskin.blogspot.com/p/buy-native.html), where it will remain forever, so you can shop Native-made items anytime of the year even when the holidays are gone. We will be adding to this list in the weeks to come, looking to promote everyone as much as possible. Upcoming posts will be filled with Holiday Gift Guides for tiny tots to grandpas and everyone in between. There are a lot of options out there when it comes to buying Native, and, ultimately, supporting Native communities.
To help with this initiative, DGTL/NVJO Victor Pascual created a BUY NATIVE logo that is being used to link a network of Native-run businesses. We want to make it as easy as possible to BUY NATIVE (and we want to make it fun!). We'll be creating this network of Native artists, and Native-owned and operated businesses so that you can put your money where your heart is (in Indian country, of course!). If you want to share the BUY NATIVE logo, please give credit to Victor Pascual and link it back to this master list (http://beyondbuckskin.blogspot.com/p/buy-native.html), because the point of this logo is to create a network, not just to promote ourselves.
We hope to create a sense of community this holiday season, and to bring meaning and story back into the gifts we buy for one another.
Again, the ultimate idea is to get the maximum amount of the money you're going to spend anyways on gifts and decor, and put that money back into Indian country and back into boosting the American economic situation.
Please share this post and join me and countless others in this pledge to BUY NATIVE and to buy at least one Native American-made gift in the weeks to come.
Cheers to a very Native holiday season!
Dr. Jessica R. Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) earned her Ph.D. in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona. She is the main author of the website, Beyond Buckskin, which focuses on all topics related to Native fashion, and is the owner of the Beyond Buckskin Boutique, which promotes and sells Native American-made couture, streetwear, jewelry, and accessories. She has taught college courses, lectured at museums, and curated exhibitions. Her current work focuses on Native American art, clothing, and design from all time periods, with an emphasis on contemporary artists.