Updated: May 28
When Jon first embarked on setting up Sacred Eagle Imports back in 1997 he knew that he only wanted to purchase genuine Native American products from Native Americans - the people to whom the crafts traditionally belonged.
At that time we were beginning to see copies of dream catchers being made in Taiwan and Malaysia and we were saddened by the poor quality of the materials and craftsmanship......it felt so disrespectful to the origins of these beautiful Native American items.
It could be said that we were WAY ahead of these modern times in recognising 'cultural misappropriation'!!
Our aim has always been to (as we see it) trade ethically. Meaning - buying our goods from individual Native American artists, Native American companies or companies buying from or employing Native American people.
And then.....a couple of years ago....we were taken aback to be confronted by an earnest young journalist who questioned our use of the term 'ethically sourced' in relation to our White Sage products. He wanted us to provide him with the details of our suppliers which we declined. His assumption was we had multiple ruthless suppliers - at the time we actually had three honourable suppliers of White Sage!
Whilst White Sage is not yet classified as threatened the conservation group United Plant Savers has placed it on its 'to watch' list. Cassidy Adlof, an ethnobotanist says that, in addition to rising demand, the species is under pressure from habitat loss and climate change.
We also know that for some Native Americans it goes against their
cultural beliefs to sell 'medicine', believing that if someone needs it it should be given to them.
But of course the converse is also true - there are Native American groups carefully and honourably harvesting white sage in traditional ways
and this is the source of their income and a means to support their family.
Currently we have two trusted suppliers who assure us that their white sage IS ethically and sustainably harvested by members of the Native community. Our products are most definitely not associated with the so called 'black market' in White Sage. One supplier has provided further information that their white sage.....
"is sustainably and ethically harvested by members of the Native American community with whom we have traded for 30 years. They have permits to harvest sage growing on land near to San Diego. They pick the Sage in a traditional and sacred manner, using blessings and leaving gifts for Mother Earth."
And the other has said
"our sage is both wild harvest and farmed. Wild harvest - it is with permission and no plants are uprooted during harvesting allowing for reharvest" .
Continuing on the line of differences within cultures even the terminology around ancestral origins is not a set-in-stone science!
When we started out it was beginning to be understood that the term 'Indian' was offensive and 'Native American' was the newly favoured term. We happily adopted this and have continued to use it........however......there are US citizens who are very happy, indeed proud, to be called Indian, whilst others prefer the title 'Indigenous People', 'Indigenous American' or 'First Nation People' and really do NOT like 'Native American' at all.
No one name or viewpoint suits every single person within a community.
As with everything in life there are many views, many roads, many different ways of being.
And there are many truths.
Each perfectly valid for an individual - however not necessarily true for the whole group.
Respect for each others place in, and understanding of, the world is called for and a recognition that 'other' or 'difference' does not need to mean conflict and separation.
Now is the time for harmony and unity upon the planet
So to respectfully borrow a beautiful Lakota prayer phrase
Mitakuye-Oyasin ("all my relations" or "we are all related" more information here )