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Thursday, September 15, 2016


I love getting the Sundance jewelry catalogue. I "window" shop through the pages of baubles that I, with precious few exception, can't possibly afford.

I have some complaints about the place though. Of course I do – I have a kvetch about nearly everything, now don't I.

Today's grievance is their reductive marketing and fetishizing of the indiginous people of North America. Fer instance:
Aquene Bracelet
The Native American name for "peace" captures the essence of our exclusive double-strand bracelet. Handmade in USA with a mix of lapis, labradorite, Peruvian opal and turquoise.
Lorena Peina - Zuni
I only mention it but there are 562 federally recognized Native American tribes in the US. I’m willing to bet that, within those 562 tribes, there are a whole slew of different original, non-English languages. To linguistically lump 562 different tribes together – to say that one word has the same meaning across all tribes/Nations is as ridiculous as saying that Frieden is the word which all Northern Europeans use for peace OR that cockwomble is known and understood by ALL English speakers. OK, maybe it is now that some bright Scot’s dubbed the Cheeto-faced, ferret-topped shitgibbon mangled, apricot hellbeast, Comb Over Caligula as such.

In any case, this is hardly the biggest example of Sundance’s Indian fetishism. They carry shedloads of traditional southwestern tribes' style of jewelry and, more often than not, it’s made by artists who don’t hale from any of 'em. Why is this important? I mean, if you think a necklace is pretty does it really matter who made it?

To me it does. I can’t separate the history, wonder and magic from these styles of jewelry. If I’m going to wear a squash blossom necklace – they’re big and bound to be a conversation starter – I want to be able to tell about the artist, possibly Taos Pueblo silversmith, Lawrence Archuleta fer instance, and then mebbe talk about the cool powwow I attended there.

Jewelry isn’t just ornament or art, it’s a story. I wear 6 rings, each picked up in my travels – there’s a good yarn behind them all. I used to wear beaded earrings, made by a woman who's Wampanoag – I’d see her at the powwows where I volunteered. They were long, gorgeous and always brought the wonderful dancers to mind. Aunt Mary Ann gave me a brilliant string of amethyst beads that she’d picked up back in her 20s. I love to imagine her, looking so classically swank, sipping Grasshoppers at, mebbe, The White Horse Tavern with her publishing house buddies. A friend gave me a necklace (pic at top of post) made by his wife who's Mayan. And, of course, there’s my grandmother’s ring from her early 20th century Alaskan adventure.

Just as every picture tells a story (don’t it) so does every piece of jewelry.

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