Eighth Generation – the First Native-Owned Company to Offer Wool Blankets – Set to Release New Blanket Design

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Wednesday release is in advance of Pike Place Market store opening.

Published June 12, 2016

SEATTLE – On Wednesday June 15th, Eighth Generation will release a new wool blanket designed by Anishinaabe artist Sarah AgatonHowes, a participant in Eighth Generation’s “Inspired Natives Project”. This release marks the second wool blanket collaboration between Eighth Generation and an Inspired Natives Project partner. The Inspired Natives Project is a highly innovative collaboration in which community based artists – whose cultural art is often appropriated by large companies – are treated as partners and offered business skills development. Its success provides a rare glimpse into what is possible when Native people control the development process for products featuring their cultural art.

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Howes’ arts-related income has nearly quadrupled since signing on the Inspired Natives Project. Through the mentorship of Louie Gong (Nooksack), the bead work specialist started her own business, developed an ecommerce website, a social media strategy, and competency in digital art programs.  Howes says, “Before, I did mostly custom work, dropping off earrings in parking lots, hustling one pair of earrings at a time. I often turned down opportunities to do vending, shows, and events, because I didn’t have an inventory. Now I can sell online to reach consumers across the country, or show up for powwows, conferences, and events with a full stock of Inspired Natives gear.”

The “Renewal” design is characteristic of the Woodlands floral tradition, and tells the story of physical and spiritual renewal.  It honors the land (through representations of the wild plum flower_, the water (through our beloved wild rice), and healing (through the “heart berry” or odemin, a signature element of Howes’ work), and the dogwood flower, which is used to create traditional tobacco.

The scallop shapes on each end of the design – which are inspired by Sarah’s own handmade regalia – symbolize the idea that humans are part of nature and that the renewal and revitalization of the land, sea, sky, and spirit require us to understand and practice our ancestral ways.

thumbnail_RENEWAL_PRODUCT PHOTO2This design launches just prior to the opening of Eighth Generation’s 1300 sq. foot flagship retail store at the iconic Pike Place Market in Seattle. The store is scheduled to open in late July. 

Eighth Generation’s ground breaking blankets are currently on display at the Portland Art Museum’s Native Fashion Now Exhibition.

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