"For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children's future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it." - Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass
While visiting my cousins in Rotorua, New Zealand, They tool me to Ahu Boutique by Adrienne Whitewood. It was there I discovered this beautiful Hinemoa tank top.
"Inspired by Maori art and culture, Adrienne Whitewood takes traditional concepts and with them invents unique silhouettes exploring fabric manipulation and technology, her ethos is all about creating wearable clothing for women who want an emotional connection to clothing."
"Tutanekai lived on Mokoia Island, Lake Rotorua, where of an evening he and his friend Tiki used to play – the one on a “horn”, the other on a “pipe”. The sound of this music could be heard across Lake Rotorua at Owhata and it charmed the beautiful and noble-born Hinemoa who lived there. When Tutanekai visited the mainland with his people, he met Hinemoa and they fell in love. The young man had perforce to return to his village, but the lovers arranged that every night he would play and that Hinemoa would follow the sound of his music to join him."
"Tutanekai kept up a nightly serenade but Hinemoa's people, suspecting something was afoot, had hidden all the canoes. The maiden, however, was not to be deterred and, selecting six large, dry, empty gourds as floats, she decided to swim to the island. Guided by the strains of her loved one's music, Hinemoa safely reached the other shore and landed near a hot spring, Waikimihia, in which she warmed and refreshed herself."
My parents immigrated to the United States before I was born, so being an American is part of the fabric of who I am. When my parents came here it was with the idea that "Living the American Dream" meant having the freedom and opportunity to make a better life for themselves and their children. I am so grateful for them and for this country that I live in. I feel like I get to live that "American Dream" everyday. While our country isn't perfect, each of us have the freedom here to choose to be better and to make this country better each day! God Bless America!
Lisa Telford: Haida Basketry
While at the Hibulb Cultural Center, I came across this beautiful Lisa Telford woven basket necklace. The detail and beauty of this piece really spoke to me. It reminded me of the woven kete we have in New Zealand. I was told that small baskets like this could be used to carry prayers and wishes of the wearer.
"As a Gawa Git’ans Git’anee Haida weaver she comes from a long line of weavers including her grandmother, mother, aunt, cousins and daughter. Lisa harvests and prepares her own material, using red and yellow cedar bark and spruce root. The gathering of materials takes her hundreds of miles from home and hours of preparation that vary depending on the final product. Bark is traditionally stored for one year and then must be processed further. Her baskets may be seen in the collections of The Oregon Historical Society, Hallie Ford Museum of Art, The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, The Heard Museum, The Portland Art Museum, and The Burke Museum."
Kohatu Ataahua: Ralph Hamon
On our last trip to New Zealand, we went to visit my Mom's cousins, Memory and Ralph Hamon in Rotorua. Uncle Ralph is a talented carver who works with both bone and pounamu (Maori Greenstone or Jade). It was our first time meeting them, but Uncle and Aunty were so gracious to us and gifted us each a beautiful taonga.
My piece is a beautiful, pounamu piece with red coloring at the bottom and a fern koru carved into it. The red in the jade gets brighter in the sunlight and is said to be the blood of our Maori people inside the stone. Ronan's piece is a small pounamu pendant with three koru's or fern leaves carved into it to represent me, my husband, and Ronan. It was carved by my nephew Dion, Uncle Ralph's grandson. Last, Greg's piece is the powerful solid Koru (Spiral) carved from whale bone.
Uncle walked over to his whale bone section, very rare and very special, and grabbed the Koru and placed it on Greg's neck and said, "This one is for you!"
We also purchased a beautiful Whale Tale Pounamu pendant because it reminded us of Paikea, and my Ngati Porou ancestry.
His work is amazing and we are so honored to wear his pieces all the time.
We love you Uncle Ralph and Aunty Memory!
"Local Artist from Rotorua shares his impressive craftsmanship through one & many of natures beautiful stones, featured next is New Zealand Greenstone "Pounamu" the traditional Tiki.
Ralph comes from a family not short of many talents in the creative arts area and his shop is located at the well known Village of "Whakarewarewa" where you may even catch him in action sculpting his next master piece."
There once lived in Hawaiki a chief called Uenuku, who had seventy-one sons. Seventy of these sons were chiefs, for their mothers were of noble birth. But Uenuku had one wife who was a slave, and because of this, her son Ruatapu was of no importance.
One day Uenuku decided to build a great canoe. A tall tree was felled, and for a long time his men worked at hollowing and smoothing and carving it. When it was finished it was painted red and hung with strings of feathers.
Then Uenuku brought together all his sons, so that their hair might be combed and oiled and tied into top-knots. This was so that they would look well when they sailed for the first time in the great canoe. Uenuku himself combed and oiled and tied their hair, for this was tapu, a sacred thing.
Ruatapu became offended when his father Uenuku elevated his older half-brother
Kahutia-te-rangi (later known as Paikea) ahead of him. When Ruatapu was about to use a comb belonging to Kahutia-te-rangi, Uenuku rebuked him, pointing out that Kahutia-te-rangi was of high rank while Ruatapu was of low birth (because his mother was a slave wife).
Then Ruatapu was very ashamed, and ran away and planned to revenge himself. He ate no food that night, but went down to the canoe and cut a hole in its bottom. Then he filled the hole in again with chips of wood.
In the morning all the noble sons of Uenuku launched the canoe for the first time, and Ruatapu went with them. The canoe was a beautiful sight, with its feathers and tall carvings, and it went very fast over the waves. They paddled a long way out to sea, and Ruatapu kept his heel over the hole so it would not be seen. When they were out of sight of land, Ruatapu pushed away the chips from the hole and water rushed into the canoe.
‘Where is the bailer?’ his brothers shouted.
‘Quickly, bail out the water, or we are lost!’
But Ruatapu had hidden the bailer, and the canoe filled with water and sank. Then Ruatapu had his revenge, for all his noble brothers were drowned, excepting one. Ruatapu swam after his last brother, Kahutia-te-rangi, but he could not catch him.
The Tribes of Ngati Porou and
Ngai Tahu are his descendants.
"Strength" by Louie Gong
"Tongues speak. Teeth can bite."
On our trip to Canada back in March, we stopped by 8th Generation at Pike Place Market. The shop was full of amazing art pieces created by #InspiredNatives, but I was immediately drawn to this pair of earrings designed by Louie Gong, the owner. The woman working at the shop told me that they were titled "Strength" and that Louie had designed them as a tribute to the women in his tribe because they are fierce protectors of culture and their posterity. The earrings are designed to look like a wolf's mouth just like a mother wolf would be a fierce protector of her cubs.
I really liked the explanation and could identify with it because I was always told growing up that the women of my Maori tribe, Ngati Porou, were figures of strength and participated in leadership roles and in the protecting and preservation of culture.
According to the description from his website:
This original "Strength" earring design by Louie Gong (Nooksack) developed organically from his signature art style, which often includes symbols of empowerment such as oversized teeth, tongues, and claws. Here, the hand-painted wood compliments northwest Native art traditions ,while ensuring that every single earring has a unique wood grain and paint job that can never be duplicated. This compliments the bold contemporary finish of the body and tongue, which is made of acrylic. The metal jump ring and hook have a gun metal finish.
Louie Gong (Nooksack), founder of Eighth Generation, is a self-taught artist who was raised by his grandparents in the Nooksack tribal community in northwest Washington...Louie’s unique style merges traditional Coast Salish art with influences from his mixed heritage and urban environment to create work that resonates widely across communities and cultures.
Museum of Anthropology - Vancouver
While in Vancouver, we had the opportunity to go to the Museum of Anthropology (MOA) at the University of British Columbia and it was an amazing experience. A person could spend hours there, but our time was limited and so was our two-year-old's attention span. The art there was amazing and it's definitely a place that I would love to go back and visit again.
Pacific Northwest Native Art
The carvings and totem poles of the Pacific Northwest Indigenous Peoples reminded me so much of the carvings and artwork of my Maori people of New Zealand that I couldn't help but feel a reverence and awe looking at these massive works of art. The detail and size of some of these pieces was amazing and the Pacific Northwestern Peoples now hold a special place in my heart.
"The exhibition features Amazonian basketry, textiles, carvings, feather works and ceramics both of everyday and of ceremonial use, representing Indigenous, Maroon and white settler communities. Today, these groups confront threats caused by political violence, mining, oil and gas exploration, industrial agriculture, forest fires, and hydroelectric plants. Challenging visitors to examine their own notions towards holistic well-being, the exhibition covers more than 100 years of unsuspected relationships between Vancouver and Amazonian peoples, ideas, and their struggles.
Rights of Nature departs from a social philosophy, known in Spanish as “buen vivir”, in which the concept of a good life proposes a holistic approach to development that intertwines notions of unity, equality, dignity, reciprocity, social and gender equality. The concept aligns directly with value systems intrinsic to Indigenous South American cultures, and serves as a rallying cry to move beyond Western ideals and practices of development and progress largely measured by profit."
-MOA, Amazonia: Rights of Nature
Layers of Influence
"From birth to death, humans are wrapped in cloth worn for survival, but more importantly, wear clothing as an external expression of their spiritual belief system, social status and political identity. This stunning exhibition will explore clothing’s inherent evidence of human ingenuity, creativity and skill, drawing from MOA’s textile collection — the largest collection in Western Canada — to display a global range of materials, production techniques and adornments across different cultures and time frames."
-MOA, Layers of Influence
This exhibit was amazing, especially since I'm currently in the business of selling clothes and very interested in fashion. Fabrics, cloths, and textiles from all over the world were on display. Each region had their own beautiful and interesting designs and materials. There were even Korowai from New Zealand on display and Tapa from the Pacific.
Peter Wayne Gong
On our trip to Canada we drove from Vancouver to Kelowna and had to pass through a city named Mission, BC, which happened to be the home of an amazing Native American artist named Peter Wayne Gong. Greg had been following Peter on Instagram for several months and decided to reach out to him. While we were there we found out that Peter had just gotten out of the hospital after having heart bypass surgery and yet he still told us to come on by his shop.
Peter is a Coast Salish artist and member of the Squamish Nation and carves and paints various Pacific Northwest Native American pieces like bentwood boxes, rattles, masks, paddles, and more. He and his wife, Darlo, were amazing hosts and spent their time showing us Peter's studio, art pieces, and sharing stories from his culture. It was am amazing experience meeting such an inspiring artist and a generous person.
Follow Peter Wayne Gong on:
Driving between Seattle and Vancouver on I-5, we noticed these stunning Orca statues in front of the Tulalip Casino & Resort and decided we needed to pull over to get a closer look. We figured the casino might have some art exhibits to look at and needed a break from the road anyways. Inside, the casino was extremely beautiful, but we must have looked very out of place carrying around a 2-year old amongst the slot machines because this nice lady came up to us and asked if we needed any help. We responded that we were from California and just stopped because the resort looked beautiful. She directed us to the hotel portion and gave us some recommendations. We walked over to the main entrance of the hotel and the totem poles were stunning!
As my husband was taking pictures of the totem poles with Ronan and I in front of them this same nice lady came running up to us and said, "Okay you need a family picture now!" After the picture she asked us if we had any interest in visiting the tribe's museum. We were ecstatic! She told us to wait right there while she got us complementary passes to the Hibulb Cultural Center.
Hibulb Cultural Center
We had the entire museum to ourselves and what we thought would be a 30 minute walk-through turned into 2 hours of interactive family fun and personal enrichment.
One of the best parts of our time in the museum was being able to talk with Cary Williams, the Museum Assistant. As he shared with us stories from his grandfather and people, our authentic cultural exchange was uplifting and inspiring. Greg and I will forever be grateful for the time he shared with us even past the museum closing. As we shared our experience with Cary about how we happened upon the museum he told us that it had "called to us" and we truly felt a spirit of truth in that statement. As both of us are descendants of whale people, his ancestors the Killer Whales and mine Paikea, I can only feel like we were drawn there for a reason.
The museum gift shop was full of incredible art from indigenous artists and companies and even local tribal members. It is so important to learn about indigenous people and support local tribal artists whenever possible.
Cary explained to us that we are living in a time where the song of our ancestors is calling to us and as indigenous people we are uniting in our similarities to find the lost canoe full of all of the good things of the earth.
Hibulb Cultural Center was definitely a highlight of our trip! I would recommend the Museum to everyone and can't wait to continue to learn about the Tulalip Tribe and return to visit them again.