In today’s post, I’d like to show my appreciation for the local Native artists who made the beautiful pieces of jewelry in these photos. I recently attended a cultural event put on by the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, where I purchased most of these pieces of beaded jewelry from local Pomo artists. The aquamarine-colored necklace and earrings look like they’re part of a set, but they were actually made by two different artists, and I love wearing them together. I also really like the red, black, and white beaded loop earrings, which look great with all my black clothes (I have lots) and bright turquoise stones.
Ever since I was a kid, I have received inconsistent education on our continent’s indigenous peoples. I was fed the whitewashed Thanksgiving stories and problematic depictions of Native Americans all throughout my youth, and I got very little information on what tribal life is like today. But I also had a lot of local tribal education as a kid, learning extensively about the local Miwok and Pomo people. And of course as a teenager I finally got to learn the real, totally awful Thanksgiving/Columbus stories. So while the seeds for indigenous appreciation were sown early on, I didn’t have enough resources to truly know what it means to be a good ally, or to tell the difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation.
In this recent wave of indigenous appropriation and corporate commercialization of native aesthetics, there has been a ton of information available on what appropriation is and isn’t, and how to truly appreciate Native American cultures without appropriating. Native Appropriations, Everyday Feminism, and Jezebel all are great resources on how to show your respect and honor this continent’s native people.
Buying arts and crafts directly from Native artists is an awesome way to respectfully incorporate Native culture in your everyday life. Brush up on the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 so you can know what to look for when searching for authentic Native-made goods. Or just head over to Beyond Buckskin Boutique and behold the incredible beauty of their gorgeous Native-made jewelry and incredibly cool, modern clothing.
One of the best parts of buying from actual Native artists is making that human connection. Meeting talented artists and supporting their craft is really important, and that’s true for people of any cultural background. When I buy items from outside my culture, I want to buy them from somebody of that culture. It seems only right.
The only links I’m able to give for the jewelry shown are White Buffalo for the turquoise stone necklace and Mitla Moda for the beaded bracelet. Unfortunately I don’t have any information on the artists I met who made the beaded earrings and abalone necklace. But what I can say about them is that they were really talented people and I really enjoyed talking to them and learning about their work. The woman who made the aquamarine-colored beaded earrings was selling alongside her sister, and they had me laughing the whole time with all their quick back-and-forth jokes. And the abalone necklace was sold to me by a sweet elderly woman whose beading is delicate and colorful. She told me she would be selling more around Christmastime at a Native market in Santa Rosa. I want to find out when this is so I can see more of her work!
Being a good ally means constant learning, listening, and growing. No ally is perfect. But making an effort to show true respect for other cultures, and learning to take criticism and learn from our experiences when we screw up, is important in good allyship.
The Jezebel link I posted above has great information on the 3 S’s to consider when buying Native goods (Source, Significance/Sacredness, and Similarity). I’ll post it again right here so you don’t have to scroll back up to find it.