It calls itself “the world’s handmade marketplace.” And if you’re the crafty, self-starting entrepreneur type, you likely already know its name — Etsy.
Started up seven years ago as a site for “very-very small businesses,” Etsy has become massive in its own right: 15+ million members, 875,000+ active shops, and 13+ million listed items. So it should come as no surprise that a few Indigenous items/shops should pop up here and there. In fact, the examples I am about to showcase are among the roughly 700 items that cropped up when I conducted a search using the term ‘Indigenous.’
Alas, determining how many are of genuine origin and/or optimal benefit to an Aboriginal artist/vendor I cannot say with 100% certainty, but I tried to use my native spidey sense to separate out the pretenders from the real thing. (Corrections welcomed.)
And so, here now, in no particular order, is a sampling of what most caught my eye, in the hopes it will catch your fancy enough that you might consider making an Aboriginal artist very happy today.
According to his profile, self-taught urban Indigenous artist Sheldon Lee “originates from the Thungutti Tribe of New South Wales” in Australia. Lee’s shop — Thungutti Dreaming — features nearly 50 one-off original artworks (ranging in price from $36 to almost $2,000), including this gorgeous piece, Circles of Life.
Mia Mia Aboriginal Art Gallery in Australia is a social enterprise operated by the Aboriginal Artists Development Fund. Its Etsy shop features a variety of artist-approved reproductions on fine art canvas, with a percentage of each sale going directly to the artist to “help support themselves, their family and their community.” The painting depicted here, Our Country, was jointly created by Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Michelle Possum Nungurrayi and Gabriella Possum Nungurrayi.
According to the profile of Lut Stamp (Entiat/Sioux), “I weave a story through my work, of Indian people, and how we live today … This is the real thing. Native Art, Native style.” His piece of ‘Native bling,’ RezMau5, is a great example of what Stamp calls ‘Pop Native Americana’ for sale at his Etsy shop, ‘ModernTradish.’
The sewn seal and sea otter skins of Shaaxsaani strive to echo and extend the Southeast Alaska rainforest culture of this Tlingit artisan. Her shop features a variety of items, from purses and hairbands to bracelets like this sealskin-and-bone beauty entitled, appropriately enough, Whale Tail.
Via her MikmaqQuillArt Etsy shop, Mi’kmaq artist Cheryl Simon handcrafts porcupine quills, birch bark, sweetgrass and spruce root into art inspired by traditional “designs and petroglyphs found throughout Atlantic Canada.”
TeeHawk Designs (owned/operated by Cheryl Shannon, whose “multicultural background” means she’s “influenced from all angles”) offers a fun array of bottle-cap resin necklaces that includes some Native American flags and symbols, like this ‘Intertribal 49,’ the perfect pow-wow trail accessory.
If I had a mantle (and $600), I personally would love to hang this picture by Jamie Luoto above it. “Inspired by [her] Sami ancestry, [she] painted this reindeer in traditional Sami clothing.” The Sami inhabit Sapmi, a Scandanavian region encompassing parts of Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Russia. Check out Luoto’s store ‘MissBojambo‘ for more pics of animals striking curious poses.
The elegant and clean design of ‘árbi2 basic‘ (by Neeta Inari, originally of Inari, Finland) is “based on traditional Saami jewellery, which is lavishly decorated with small jingling pendants, drops and jump rings to ward off evil spirits and malevolent underground people.” The word árbi is North Saami for ‘heritage.’
Using an “off-the-loom peyote stitch technique,” MexiFolk‘s made-to-order earrings are the creation of CEspinoza, who offers “modern and unique iterations of this beautiful Indigenous art form,” like these ‘estrellitas’ (little stars), a shorter-style ‘Feliz’ earring.
Gregory Beauchamp, aka beauchamping, “grew up in Tualatin, Oregon, where a majority of the streets are named after Native American tribes. We lived on Nez Perce, my best friend lived on Kickapoo.” Here, ‘TRIBE‘ well illustrates the whimsical voice present throughout much of Beauchamp’s work available for sale on his shop.