All throughout the year, but especially when the fall season approaches, there’s an increase of people falling for the temptation of purchasing things with a Native aesthetic but not actually supporting Native peoples. Recently, smudging or saging has become a wellness trend with no regards for its Indigenous origins as a traditional ceremonial practice.
From dreamcatchers to white sage, headdresses, and beaded jewelry, all of these hold great cultural significance to Indigenous peoples; but many take, appropriate, and manufacture cheaply-made versions, holding no regard or respect to their origins.
Feed someone’s dream and support a Native-owned small business today.
There are countless but we’ve selected a few that offer a variety of handmade and high-quality items that provide opportunity to appreciate rather than appropriate Indigenous culture. Many of these sellers offer both traditional and modern products, as well as cultural context and history.
Trickster Company is one of the coolest brands around as they promote “innovative Native art, fashion, and design.” Their work has even been featured in museums! Founded by siblings Rico and Crystal Worl, they design art and fashion that is both modern and relevant while still representing their own Native culture.
The products act as objects for contemporary Indigenous peoples to “represent their heritage”; and are also for non-Native people to wear and appreciate without fear of appropriating culture. They sell everything from designer apparel and accessories to stationary and stickers to home goods and even sports; such as basketballs and skateboards.
Sage & Oats Trading Post
Based in Helena, Montana, family-operated Sage & Oats Trading Post is a Native-owned business that offers a variety of products; ranging from apparel to food to bath and body. On Etsy, they represent more than 100 artisans in their physical store.
Self-described as “an intercultural shopping experience,” they sell jewelry, toys, candles, shirts, lotions, hats, stickers, healing ointments, tea and coffee, soap, frybread mix, bug spray, and more. The majority of their products are authentically Native-made.
Spirit Wolf Botanica
Spirit Wolf Botanica is an Etsy shop that specializes in aromatherapy and natural remedies. Owner Silvia Carreon is an “Indigenous medicine woman and seer with a sincere passion for helping people find peace and harmony in mind, body and spirit.”
In her shop, you’ll find canvas art, cleansing sprays, and bracelets. She sells a white sage spray meant to “clear the mind and create positive energy without smoke as it also purifies the air”. Her items also have detailed descriptions briefly explaining its use and cultural significance. Remember to be mindful of saging origins if you choose to participate.
Rain Girl Art
Rain Girl Art is an Etsy shop selling authentic artisan pieces inspired by nature; including necklaces, ornaments, and dreamcatchers. Creator Leigha Jane is a member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa who designs traditional dreamcatchers, conscientiously honoring her ancestry. Most include her own harvested tree branches, beads, and feathers. Some even include seashells. After being crafted, the dreamcatcher is “hung outside in a wooded area teeming with birds and abundant with sunlight and the smells of the earth to bring it back to the earth’s vibration.”
In each description, she explains that the Ojibwe (also known as Chippewa) people were the first Nation to use dreamcatchers as they were hand-woven by women and given to family as a “maternal keepsake” to ultimately “provide protection while far away”. Although origin stories vary, “the power and belief in the sentiment is universal.”
Keewatin Dreams started from Ojibwe/Cree Veronica making traditional dreamcatchers for her friends and family until she decided one day to share them with the rest of the world. The Etsy shop has already grown into her selling handmade beaded earrings as well. Each pair of earrings and dreamcatchers are made with love. Veronica is also happy to do custom orders for either so she can “make your vision come to life!”
“Bringing Cherokee culture to the world,” Cherokee Images began many years ago simply as a website for one Cherokee family to document their culture and daily life. Today, its mission is the same, but they’ve expanded to include many families as they hope to celebrate the Cherokee.
With the addition of their Etsy shop, they provide direct support to Cherokee artisans by paying them for their creativity and work in creating their products. Items include mugs, home decor, stationary, and jewelry. Cherokee Images says, “We also wanted to preserve and promote Cherokee culture by finding a way to reward those who remembered the old ways; and yet encourage exploration and incorporation of today’s Cherokee Nation as part of a global community.”
Sacred Way Sanctuary & Trading Post
Sacred Way Sanctuary is a “research, education, and preservation facility that is home to a foundation herd of between 80-90 Native American horses.” Their Etsy shop, the Sacred Way Trading Post, includes Native handcrafted items as well as their cultural purpose and stories. They sell a wide variety of products, including balms and soaps, accessories, dreamcatchers, and decor. All proceeds go towards care for the rare and endangered horses at the sanctuary.
As the holiday season approaches and you’re looking for that perfect gift, consider purchasing from any of these Native-owned small businesses. You’ll not only be giving a gift to a loved one but giving to someone’s dream as you support their independently owned business. You’re helping to keep a culture alive, thus making it literally the gift that keeps on giving.
Are there any Native-owned businesses you’d like to recommend? Let us know in the comments!
Header: Trickster Company