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A hooded Pendleton backpack from Painted Warrior Designs.

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

Vincent Schilling
September 11, 2013

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 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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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