You say you don't want to support the corporatist big-box stores today?
You say you want to support small businesses?
You say you want to "buy American?"
Then how about really buying American this holiday season: from Native American artists?
If you've followed the many diary series on Native American issues by the members of Native American Netroots, then you probably already know that our demographic is among the poorest in the nation, and is increasingly hard-hit by this economy: In many areas, unemployment rates approach 100%; on some rezes, the average annual family income is less than $3,800; Pine Ridge life expectancies are similar to that found in Somalia. Even those areas that aren't in such truly deadly straits are suffering badly, and in a lot of regions (including where we live), winter's already here.
A lot of you already know Wings personally. More of you know him as "Mr. Aji." And most of you probably know that he owns a gallery at Taos Pueblo, where for years he's sold his own silverwork, including both jewelry and collectibles, and his photography. What you may not know is that, over these years, he has consistently worked to support Native artists from the Pueblo (all told, more than 30), buying their work for resale at the gallery, or sometimes taking it on consignment.
Examples of Wings's work, as well as items from other Native artists, is over the jump.
HANDS ON SILVER WEARABLE ART (AND COLLECTIBLES!)
Wings began his career as a self-taught silversmith. His father was a silversmith, as was his father before him. Drawing on that artistic and spiritual tradition, Wings has developed his own signature style, blending traditional elements with more contemporary forms to create art that can be (and is) worn from Taos to Tokyo, from Santa Fe to South America, from Albuquerque to Australia. Over the past two decades, he's sold his art to clients on five continents and in nearly every U.S. state.
Below are some examples of items currently available. There are many, many more available at the Web site; just click on the "Galleries" tab on the menu bar. And if you don't see what you're looking for, he does do commissions; simply e-mail to inquire.
Yes, Wings now has Aji designing occasionally; he does all the smithing and execution. This is the only piece designed by me that is currently available, although a number of others are in various stages of the creative process.
EARRINGS AND RINGS
PENDANTS AND PINS
BELTS AND BUCKLES
"Wings of the Wind" is Wings's professional photography business. Self-taught, he focuses on the land, animals, and spirit in and around Taos Pueblo and its ancestral lands.
Rather than add to the volume of images in this diary, I'll just point you to the "Photography" section under the "Galleries" tab on the Web site. Samples from various series are already posted, and we have hundreds of other images, as well. If you're looking for a particular theme or motif, inquire by e-mail.
OTHER NATIVE ARTISTS
We currently carry a host of traditional and contemporary items made by other Native artists: drums, fetishes, leatherwork, jewelry, katsinam, pottery, wall art, weapons - and much, much more. A few sample photos are below. If you're looking for something specific, please inquire.
We carry an array of hand and powwow-style drums by Lee Lujan and Elk Goodwater.
We stock fetishes and sculptures by Ned Archuleta and other Taos Pueblo carvers, Mark Swazo-Hinds of Tesuque Pueblo, and a variety of Zuni Pueblo carvers.
We have traditional micaceous pottery and storytellers by a number of different Taos Pueblo artisans, including Juanita Suazo DuBray and Angie Yazzie. Inquire for photos and prices of pieces by specific potters.
We also carry traditional katsinam (kachinas) by Taos Pueblo carver Josh Aragon. Josh does some of the most beautiful (and authentic) pieces we've seen in a long time. He carves them in the traditional manner, from a single piece of cottonwood root, hewing to the natural lines of the wood. We have several pieces by him, including Eototo, Crow Mother, and a number of others. Inquire for additional photos and pricing.
Again, these are only a tiny sample of what's available. Please visit the Web site to see dozens of additional items. And if you're looking for something you don't see, please shoot me an e-mail: If it's silverwork or photography, Wings can probably create it; if it's something else, we can probably find it for you.
Chi miigwech and ta'a ("many thanks" in our respective languages). Holiday blessings from both of us!