By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
One Feather Staff
Many businesses felt the pain in 2020 due to the numerous shut-downs and cancelled events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One area that was hit especially hard was Native American artists and vendors, and From The People, an online community, was formed to try to lessen those pains.
“From The People is a Native and woman-owned online Indigenous marketplace and decolonized community,” said Isabella Johnson, From the People co-founder. “We cater specifically to Native artists and vendors and have features like our Native lands map to showcase Native-owned businesses. Our platform facilitates exchanges of cultural appreciation between customers and vendors by making it easy for customers to directly support Indigenous artists who can then continue to create their traditional crafts. Additionally, a percentage of our proceeds are donated to the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women and the First Nations Institute Emergency COVID Relief Fund.”
Categories on the website include jewelry, art, traditional assortments, and apparel.
Of the pandemic, she noted, “The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown pow wows, art markets, and gatherings across Indian country. Many Native artists and vendors rely on pow wow sales for their livelihood, so we created From The People as a space for Native vendors to transition to online sales easily. Native artists can sign up for a vendor account, post their items for sale, or even link their own existing website to our marketplace to increase the traffic on their page.”
An artist herself, Johnson worked hard to help others, “This past year, I learned how to bead to reconnect with my own heritage through a traditional craft within my tribe, the Coquille Indian Tribe. I got the idea for From The People while I was shopping for beaded earrings and it was important to me that I was supporting Native artists with my purchase. The problem was it was difficult to assess which products were Native-made or when Native designs were being appropriated and exploited for profit by non-Natives.”
She added, “I wanted a one-stop shop where I knew my purchase would be supporting Native artists pursuing traditional crafts. My cofounder, Chase McNiel, and I created From The People as a space for Native artists to display their work and make it easy for customers to support Indigenous artists.”
Johnson said the overall target audience was Native artists in general and started with those making traditional beadwork. “I reached out to Indigenous artists without websites whose products and sales would benefit from an organized shop profile like the ones our platform provides. Our target customer base is made up of both Natives and non-Natives who are interested in supporting Native artists and love hand-made products.”
The community has grown to around 80 Native artists, from both the United States and Canada, selling a variety of products ranging from beadwork to apparel. “We recently opened an events page where pow wow coordinators can host their own virtual art market events on From The People. At the moment, we have two pow wow virtual art market events running on our platform. These events display the pow wow logistical information as well as the work of the Native artists associated with the event.”
From The People takes great strides to ensure authenticity in the products on their site which states, “From The People requires all vendors to be compliant with the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644), a truth-in-advertising law which prohibits misrepresentation in marketing American Indian or Alaska Native arts and crafts products within the United States. It is illegal to offer or display for sale or sell any art or craft product in a manner that falsely suggests it is Indian produced, an Indian product, or the product of a particular Indian or Indian Tribe or Indian arts and crafts organization, resident within the United States. To ensure our vendors are compliant with the Indian Arts and Crafts Act (P.L. 101-644), From The People must verify our vendors tribal enrollment status.”
For more information, visit: https://www.fromthepeople.co/