How To Support Native Businesses This Holiday Season
- October 16,2020
The small-business ownership rate is phenomenally high amongst Native Americans, but unfortunately, this hasn’t translated into economic prosperity. Native Americans suffer from high poverty rates and have the lowest yearly incomes amongst racial and ethnic groups.
What’s worse is the plethora of non-Native businesses using native imagery to promote and sell their products or illegally frame their non-authentic goods as genuine.
Purchasing from Native American-owned businesses and independent freelancers is the perfect way to get high-quality, authentic Native American goods like moccasins, beadwork, and instruments. Buying goods directly from their shops, websites, or physical stores guarantees that the money will go to the actual owners and not a large corporation.
Here’s how to support native businesses this holiday season and spread some much-needed winter cheer.
Do Your Research
If your heart and intentions are in the right place, you can still own, display, and wear Native-made goods as a non-Native.
Research the type of items you’re looking to buy. Look deep into their spiritual and cultural significance and if there’s a proper way to care for them. Common materials like rawhide, gourd, and bone might require a unique upkeep or cleaning process.
If the item you’re looking to buy has a strong spiritual or cultural significance, aim to treat it with respect. Don’t purchase it solely for fun or use it for purposes that disrespect the item’s original intent. Some highly cultural items might not be appropriate for non-Natives to wear—the war bonnet or Native American headdress, for example.
Avoid Non-Authentic Goods
Watch out for non-authentic goods. Under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, non-Natives can only sell Native ‘style’ goods. This distinction is critical. Pay careful attention to the title and description of the products you purchase.
Some people may deliberately mislead customers and illegally label their goods as authentically Native. Search for common indicators of a shady, unreliable seller, like a lack of reviews, a recently created profile, and undetailed or mistake-ridden product descriptions.
Etsy, where self-employed natives can set up their own online shops, is a fantastic place to start your search. Native American business directories, available online, can help you locate other Native-owned shops and their websites.
Buy Their Products
The best way to support Native businesses this holiday season is, as you might have guessed, to purchase their products. Most holiday spending tends to take place at large, well-known companies like Walmart, Target, and Amazon. Supporting smaller businesses, especially amid the pandemic, is crucial for keeping them afloat.
If you’re not personally interested in Native goods, don’t worry—the holidays are for giving, after all! Purchase something for a friend, family member, or coworker. With the wide range of goods available, you’re sure to find the perfect fit.
There’s beaded jewelry, a guaranteed favorite of mothers and female friends. Traditional clothing, like moccasins, come in all sizes, making them the perfect gift for a new mother and her baby.
Drums, rattles, and bells are great for your local music enthusiast. Paintings and home décor will brighten up anyone’s home.
Native American literature and a warm, comfortable blanket to huddle under will be a hit with bookworms. For your foodie friends, purchase some flavored deer or bison jerky.
Tachini Drums is your home for Native American sweat lodge drums
, medicine rattles, and more. Come browse through our inventory!