Painted Warrior Designs/Facebook
A hooded Pendleton backpack from Painted Warrior Designs.

10 Back-to-School Items to Show Your Native Pride

Vincent Schilling
9/11/13

For students wanting to show some Native pride in school, here is a list of 10 pretty cool items to show some Native flavor.

A Beaded Pen

If you want to look slick taking your next test, jotting down notes or while biting the end and looking thoughtfully into space, you definitely want to get a beaded pen. Looking around online there are a few places, like Sun Country Traders, selling these modern marvels, as for me—I got mine at a powwow.

A pow wow is a great place to pick up Native goodies. (Vincent Schilling)

A Backpack

Imagine reaching for your books in class and bringing your Native-style backpack up on to your desk with a nice loud thunk. What better way to say, “yep, I’m Native and proud.”

There are some gorgeous—but sold out for the moment—back packs designed by Kevin Dakota Duncan at Painted Warrior Designs.

Painted Warrior Designs is an accessory and clothing company with designs by Kevin Dakota Duncan. (Painted Warrior Designs)

Some Awesome Native Earrings

Any Google search can turn up a 10-mile long result page on Native American earrings, but the folks at Tlicho and the Beyond Buckskin Boutique have some earlobe-adorning winners made by Native artisans in a range of prices. So poke another hole in those ears and get to class Native style!

These “Firework” earrings are blue dyed and natural porcupine quill. The online store is owned by the Tlicho Government for the Tlicho people. (Tlicho Online Store)

A Native T-shirt

What better way to “teach” the masses about history and its alignment to your Native views than with a confrontational T-shirt? Just check out these designs from Noble Savage and their “Original Landlords” design and the OXDX folks and their “Don’t Trend On Me” and “Native Americans Discovered Columbus” designs.

OXDX is a Native-owned clothing line based in Chandler, Arizona. (OXDX)

Baseball Cap or Beanie

Native Threads have it on point with their selection of Native baseball caps and beanies. In all seriousness, I want one of each. These things are all that and a bag of chips out of the school vending machine—and you just happened to have exactly 65 cents.

The baseball caps and beanies sold by Native Threads, a Native-owned and operated clothing company, are the result of a grassroots entrepreneurial effort. (Native Threads)

Next Stop—Hoodie Time!

Having to choose between Beyond Buckskin’s Red Sea Hoodie designed by Tahltan artist Alano Edzerza and the black zip-up hoodie on the Native Threads website, I just might have to break down and get both before autumn starts working its way into the weather forecasts. No matter what, you are sure to look like a hip Native student.

This Red Sea Hoodie was designed by Tahltan artist Alano Edzerza for the Beyond Buckskin Boutique, a place for American Indian designers to showcase their work. (Beyond Buckskin Boutique)

Mineral-Based Cosmetics

Those students wishing to accent their looks can venture over to Kamamak, an aboriginal-owned cosmetics company. According to the site, these cosmetics are infused with the Native culture of North America, and are a modern, fun, sophisticated take on cosmetic art.

Kamamak Cosmetics is an aboriginal-owned cosmetics line. Their products are mineral-based and paraben-free. (Kamamak Cosmetics)

A Good Book

Some teachers may not have extensive knowledge of Native American culture and history, with a good book on hand, you can teach the teacher if you do a report on a good Native book. Two good places to find great Native titles are Birchbark Books and Native Voices Books. Of course the library is always free for older titles.

These titles are all published by Native Voices Books to preserve the history, culture and stories of Native people. (Native Voices Books)

A Craft Project

As an artist raised by grandparents in the Nooksack tribal community in a shack with no running water, Louie Gong, (Nooksack, Squamish, Chinese, French and Scottish) has overcome considerable odds to become one of the nation’s most successful shoe artists. He’s created what he calls the “mock-up,” a cool shoe-mold craft project for budding artists.

So if you want to try your hand at crafting a Native style, you should get yourself a mock-up to stand out from the crowd with your next craft assignment. Mock-ups are a do-it-yourself toy and are made of vinyl. According to Gong, “The advantage to the vinyl surface of mockups is that you can apply almost any medium to it—pencil, colored pencil, crayons, spray paint or you can add sculpting material. They are very versatile. You can erase just about anything too.”

So go get crafty!

These mock-ups were designed by Louie Gong, who created the shoe/craft project. (GetMockups.com)

Barrettes and Bolo Ties

Etsy website Native bead crafter DeanCouchie has a vast selection of bolo ties and NorthwestBeadwork has an impressive collection of customized coin purses, arm cuffs and even a Batman beaded barrette, there is no excuse to go to school sans beaded-something.

This Batman barrette was beaded by Stephanie Pinkham, Nez Perce, who runs an Etsy shop called NorthwestBeadwork. (NorthwestBeadwork)

See you in the halls decked out in beaded gear and Native style accouterment.

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