Indigenous people are the original stewards of the land, a tradition that has continued through the centuries. Today, businesses from all areas of commerce are owned by native people who understand the need for sustainable products. These companies honor that connection to the planet and its inhabitants, giving consumers a way to support native heritage while making purchasing decisions that protect the environment. Here are some Indigenous-owned brands you can support.
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The Orenda Tribe
Founded in 2016 by Zaid Souqi after a life-changing experience working with orphans and children, The Orenda Tribe’s “mission is to raise awareness on social issues through art and story-telling and we are driven by three main values; Empowerment, Community and Sustainability.”
The company merges these ideas by educating youth during play with art workshops that highlight topics ranging from child marriage to bullying to environmental pollution. For every T-shirt you buy, The Orenda Tribe will enroll a child in its art of hope initiative, which empowers children in orphanages, refugee camps, hospitals, and other difficult situations throughout Jordan.
Shanai Kellett of @malogaart comes from Yorta Yorta/Juru descent and produces contemporary Indigenous ‘sand art’ that she told Team Timbuktu, “symbolises that connection to Mother Nature and earth. Maloga means Sand in my Yorta Yorta language.” The technique was originally developed by the Yorta Yorta people. Kellett is a third-generation sand artist, learning it from her mom, who discovered it through her uncle before that.
Totem Design House
This family-owned, Indigenous brand makes it a priority to honor cultural knowledge in its line of jewelry, home decor, fine arts and botanical wellness products. Totem Design House strives for a low environmental footprint through the use of local products and in-house production. It also donates to Copper Legacy Indigenous Empowerment Society, a non-profit that supports Indigenous programs and projects.
This Indigenous brand aims to honor the history of the culture by collaborating with First Nation artists. Its signature Deadly Denim line is made from recycled denim and textile-industry scraps. Throughout the production cycle, Indigenous groups contribute to the art, and the culture of sewing and creative creations are kept alive.
A portion of its profits support the Rhodanthe Lipsett Indigenous Midwifery Charitable Fund (RLIMCF), an organization dedicated to saving lives through traditional midwifery training.
This company offers modern skincare options made via traditional methods. It features family recipes passed down from generation to generation. Products are handmade from locally harvested, native botanicals, and sales fund a program called The Bush Medijina Shed, which empowers Indigenous women and heightens cultural knowledge in the region.
Clothing the Gaps
For the team at Clothing the Gaps, producing “merch with meaning” opens conversations around causes and issues Aboriginal people face. In addition to celebrating the lifestyles of Aboriginal people, the cause practices sustainable production. It currently holds an Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation and is working towards Social Traders and B Corporation Australia certifications.
Blending Indigenous culture with essential oils creates Earth Jiinda, previously known as Earth Blended. Founder, mother, aromatherapist and Gumbaynggirr woman, Jame Telfer promotes alternatives for mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing. Her blends are created using traditional methods and recipes combined with modern knowledge. Telfer says, “All of our products are cruelty free, Australian made, ethically sourced and packaged with as minimal waste as possible. Each product is made with not only the Aromatherapy qualification and safety guidelines followed but also cleansed with a native eucalyptus burning bundle.”
This Australian brand starts with a foundation of sustainable fabrics and ends with luxury resort wear. The label collaborates with Indigenous artists to feature their artwork on material made of recycled plastic, silk, cashmere and wood pulp. A percentage of each sale is returned to the highlighted artist.
Bush Magic Metal
Using recycled silver, the Bush Magic Metal jewelry line is inspired by history in the Australian native bush. The artist, Jess, is a Mununjali and Butchulla descendant who learned the art of silversmithing through the use of both ancient and modern traditions. She was recently nominated for the National Indigenous Fashion Awards.
Trickster Company is an Indigenous-owned design shop founded by siblings Rico and Crystal Worl. They produce a variety of apparel, paper, home goods and sports products, all honoring indigenous design.
Lowanna Natural Skincare
Founder Sinead is a “proud descendent of the Narungga people of the Yorke Peninsula region, and I truly value the nature-based beliefs of my ancestors.” As a result, she has developed a product line of skincare products made from natural, plant-based and native ingredients that have been used for generations.
Beyond Buckskin Boutique
Based out of North Dakota, Beyond Buckskin is dedicated to connecting Indigenous artists with the world. They work with over 40 artists, each of whom creates unique and authentic Native American and First Nations fashion and jewelry. The project highlights diversity and tradition with designers that introduce ancient patterns through natural materials, using traditional techniques.
Via Green and Simple
Images via iStock, Beyond Buckskin, Trickster Company, Earth Jiinda, Bush Medijina, and The Orenda Tribe
12 sustainable, Indigenous-owned brands to support is written by Dawn Hammon for inhabitat.com