FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Native-owned company responds to coronavirus pandemic by partnering with Oregon artists to launch new wool blanket with timely message about unity
Official Launch Date: May 21, 2020
SEATTLE, WA – Eighth Generation, a Seattle-based small business that just donated over 10,000 masks to Seattle-area health clinics, has received national recognition for setting the “gold standard” for respectful alignment with Native art and culture – an area of ethical business practice that is often overlooked by larger companies. The new Oregon Potlach blanket exemplifies this approach to business.
The “Oregon Potlatch” blanket, which will officially launch on May 21st, was designed by Portland-area artist Shirod Younker (Coquille/Miluk Coos/Umpqua) and Tony A. Johnson (Clatsop/Wahkikum/Lower Chinook), current tribal chairman of the Chinook Tribe and a former longtime resident of Oregon. It features 9 different basketry designs representing each of the federally recognized tribes of Oregon. A 10th design – a human figure from a regional basket from the Columbia River – was added to represent other Oregon tribes, indigenous people relocated to Oregon and people who are not affiliated with any tribe. Together, the designs represent all people who live in the land that is now called “Oregon”.
“It has been exciting to watch Louie and Eighth Generation grow as a Native-owned business,” shared Cheryle A. Kennedy, Chairwoman of the Grand Ronde Tribe. “Their dedication to working with Native artists is making real, Native artwork, available to everyone in a culturally appropriate way. It is an honor to support them in this effort.”
The blanket was originally slated to launch in tandem with the grand opening of Eighth Generation’s much anticipated Portland retail store, which is delayed due to the pandemic. According to Louie Gong (Nooksack), Founder and CEO of Eighth Generation, the artists choice to interweave designs representing many different people in one blanket“created a message that was meant for this exact moment: there’s comfort and protection in unity. So we decided to launch it now.”
About Eighth Generation
Eighth Generation, owned by the Snoqualmie Tribe, is America’s foremost Native American-owned art and lifestyle brand – the most prominent platform for real Inspired Native artists — in a market dominated by large corporations that hire non-Natives to misappropriate Tribal art.
What is a Potlatch?
Potlatch is a term applied to ceremonies, comprised of songs, dances, feasts, and gift giving, that were celebrated by groups all along the Northwest Coast. While it may be organized and carried out differently by different culture groups, “the potlatch universally was a ritual of recognition, a public validation of rank accomplished by the ceremonial distribution of wealth” (Blackman et al. 1981:30). The reasons for holding a potlatch varied among the cultures, however, significant events, such as marriages, funerals, and transfers of rank or names on to one’s children, were all potential reasons for hosting a potlatch. (Burkemuseum.org)