"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
The beautiful art of Michelle Lowden, from Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico.
The Winnemem Wintu (Middle Water People) Tribe is indigenous to Northern California. They are intimately connected to the McCloud River, Bulyum Puyuk (Mount Shasta), and the surrounding meadows. The Winter-Run Chinook Salmon are sacred to the Winnemem Wintu people. They believe when the Creator put them on the Earth they had no voice, their Salmon relatives gave up their voices to the Winnemem Wintu people.
Now the Chinook Salmon are on the verge of extinction. The Winnemem Wintu people have an ancient prophecy, “When there are no more salmon, there will be no more Winnemem Wintu people.”
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, salmon eggs were taken from the McCloud River to populate the rivers in other parts of the world.
The Winnemem Wintu preformed a War Dance at the Shasta dam in 2004 and made news around the world. A New Zealand professor contacted them saying, “We have your fish, do you want them back?” The Chinook Salmon eggs had been taken to Aotearoa (New Zealand) back in late 1800s and early 1900s had survived in the glacier-fed rivers and exist there in healthy numbers.
After meeting with the Maori people of the South Island, the Ngai Tahu Tribe, the Winnemem Wintu are raising money to travel back to New Zealand with their tribal youth to collect samples for DNA testing to prove to the U.S. government that the New Zealand salmon are indeed the McCloud river fish so they can restore the fish to their river.
Not only am I a descendant of the Ngai Tahu people but I also belong to their sister tribe Ngati Porou as both our tribes are descendants of Paikea. And as a resident of California, I want to help the Winnemem Wintu people with their salmon restoration project.
I want my son to know that indigenous people matter and that too often are our communities’ needs, ideas, and beliefs overlooked and disrespected. I want him to grow up not being afraid to stand up for what’s right.
This is why we made “Bring Our Salmon Home” signs together as a family and also why
I am going to donate 10% of all of my sales this week
from my shop Lularoe Ana Aiono Dowden to the Winnemem Wintu Salmon Restoration Project.
You can also donate to the Salmon Restoration Project through their GoFundMe site.
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."
"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.
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.
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:
My new latest fashion obsession are my hand-beaded, custom-made, earrings by Mia Woody.
I literally have been wearing them everywhere and can't wait to get more.
I met Mia at our Lularoe Aiono Sisters pop-up party in Flagstaff, Arizona and fell in love with her work. I had been given the heart earrings prior to meeting her and loved her work already, but when I was able to see the range of styles and detail up close, my love turned into full blown obsession.
Mia Woody is a beautiful Navajo woman and her beadwork is impressive, modern, and elegant.
Everywhere I go, people are complementing me on my earrings and I feel beautiful wearing them.
Follow Mia Woody 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.
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.
"We can now see that there’s a generation, foretold as the Seventh Generation, that will fight to restore the balance of good in the world against that would destroy us and those to come in the future."
On January 24, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order clearing the way for the Dakota Access Pipeline to proceed through lands held as sacred by the
Standing Rock Sioux.
Protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline have been going on since the project was approved back in July of last year, uniting the seven subtribes of the
Sioux Nation, known as the Seven Council Fires, for the first time since the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. It has also become a historic rallying point for indigenous peoples all over the world and has sparked the largest gathering of Native American tribes in history.
The Lakota have two prophecies that seem to be coming to pass. The first that a "Black Snake" would come to America with the power to destroy the world, or unify it. And second, "According to Crazy Horse, a revered mid-19th century Oglala Lakota chief who led tribes to victory at Little Bighorn, the Lakota people would undergo generations of spiritual genocide and environmental degradation following American colonization of the West. Then, a seventh generation would wake up and rise — a generation that would lead the healing and restoration of the planet, rejuvenate a forgotten spirituality, and create harmony among people of all colors and creeds."
These Water Protectors belong to different organizations and may have different reasons for being there - indigenous rights, civil rights, environmental awareness - but they are united in the cause to prevent the pipeline from crossing the Missouri River just miles away from Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. They are brave protectors who have endured horrific human rights violations at the hands of the local law enforcement of the area.
My reasons for supporting the Water Protectors have more to do with protecting the rights, lands, and cultures of indigenous peoples. I believe that the United States should honor their treaties with the various Native American tribes and start addressing the problems of the most marginalized group of people in the U.S.
As a woman of Maori descent, I sympathize with the loss of lands and culture that the indigenous people of this land have faced. My Great-Great-Great Grandfather,
Piripi Te-Maari-o-te-rangi, was also a water protector and "was consistently concerned that Maori landowners should lose none of their rights. This concern led him into the great battle of his life, the struggle to prevent settler encroachment on the rights and lands of the owners of the two Wairarapa lakes." I am proud to be descended from this brave Water Protector and also so proud of my niece Kaitlyn for traveling to Standing Rock with supplies last November and continuing this legacy.
Even though I am unable to travel to Standing Rock and be on the front lines, there are other ways to contribute to the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. #NODAPL
YOU CAN :
DONATE TO THE SACRED STONE CAMP FUND OR LEGAL FUND
10 WAYS TO HELP THE STANDING ROCK SIOUX
"There are many battles being fought right now: Standing Rock serves as a flame now burning brightly, now dimming, waiting for the people to come back to it and give back the fire within our hearts so that it will burn brightly once more."