Endangered languages & the Indigenous Renaissance economic response
Hi friends/Mixed Blood family!
I wanted to write a blog post to share about the importance of preserving/renewing Indigenous culture and languages.
First off, I’m a storyteller and have been for many years through my career in journalism. But, I’m sharing the story of a new generation rising, through this brand that I created just a few months ago
One of my main goals with Mixed Blood is to celebrate our culture through creating contemporary fashion designs for anyone and everyone to wear. And to help revitalize endangered Indigenous languages.
The United Nations declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages in response to the worldwide crisis of Indigenous identity being lost through the loss of language. Indigenous Peoples speak more than 4,000 of the world’s languages, and the majority of the world’s languages under threat of extinction are Indigenous. It’s estimated that one Indigenous language dies every two weeks.
Language is at the very core of who we are. It is more than communicating. It’s how we remember our history and declare our future. Our ancestors passed on traditions and knowledge through language that have been alive for millennia. Language is used to preserve our cultures, cultivate our worldviews, self-determination and express our human rights.
Colonization sought to destroy and wipe out our identity. One of the major tactics was through the banning of speaking our languages. However, they’re still alive and we are reconnecting to this powerful piece of who we are.
The threat isn’t gone, however. Although we continue to beat the odds of the effects of colonization, it isn't easy to do. There are barriers that we face. Some people have even forgotten who they are- completely. However, we are and always have been resilient, and we are stronger despite the challenges that we face.
I encourage you to learn and speak your language. In whatever form that takes. Whether you learn from your Kohkum’s and Mushum’s, your aunties, uncles or other relatives. If you have no one that knows your mother language, then seek it out. We live in a time of information and accessibility. Yes, there are some remote communities that don’t have reliable access to the World Wide Web. But more and more opportunities for to learning are available and even Indigenous schools and universities like Yellowhead Tribal College in Edmonton, which offers language classes.
I incorporate language into my designs, so far using Cree and Mohawk of my ancestry. And each piece is an opportunity for teaching, sharing.
I also became an entrepreneur for the first time launching Mixed Blood. It has been quite a journey of ups and downs.
Indigenous Peoples are less likely to be self-employed than the rest of the population. In the next two decades the Indigenous population in Canada is likely to exceed 2.5 million. Can you imagine the incredible impact if more Indigenous Peoples became business owners?
We don’t need to rely on governments and remain enslaved to the oppression of the Indian Act and current adversarial statistics in order to move forward.
Yes, I understand they’re are many barriers that Indigenous Peoples face. We are less likely to have access to capital, and are often dealing with trauma and adversity.
I’ve been there. I’ve overcome adversity, lived in survival mode and I still struggle in different forms. But, believe me, if I can be successful despite what I’ve come through, then I have full faith that anyone else can.
We can take action by becoming self-sufficient and not just from an environmental/holistic standpoint, but also economically.
Colonization attempted to make us incapacitated in every way. But Indigenous Peoples always created, traded and worked hard. We are innovative, we have knowledge to share, we have gifts that we could impact the world with.
Not just in the way of making crafts and beading or consulting- that is good and needed! But we all carry within us solutions for the problems we are facing and I encourage you to tap into your creativity, gifts, talents- whether they may be in the arts, in technology, in construction, or any field. Then figure out how to turn them into a business. And you can help others when you grow because you can give them a job.
You can give back to the non-profit organizations that you want to help as well.
Honour your passions. Thirst for knowledge.
Start small, look at what you love to do, what you’re naturally good at and create a business. Or go big and run with it. I always think that if things don’t work out then I would rather have at least tried than have wondered ´what if’ and not tried.
The statistics are changing, slowly but surely things are changing in a good way. We can support, uplift and help each other along the way. Yes, in business too! Contrary to popular belief, we don’t always have to be competing with each other to succeed.
Lateral violence was also a consequence of colonialism. But, we recongnize the damage this has created in our communities. Indigenous Peoples are uniting. And when people are united, we are powerful. When we cheer each other on, share ideas and move forward together, then we ALL win.
We live in hard times, yes. But we also live in exciting times of opportunity!
This is the Indigenous Renaissance. Our generation was foretold long ago by our ancestors. We are their living prayers walking out our destinies. A cultural, political and economical rebirth in which we are carrying the responsibility of hope and revolutionary change.
We are the Indigenous Renaissance. Rise. Thrive.
Go and dream. A vision quest of discovery.
Nia:wen for your continued encouragement and support of the Mixed Blood Apparel vision!
I’ve some new designs coming out and some wonderful news to share soon!
As always, if you want to connect with me, please get in touch.
Chief Creative Officer
Mixed Blood Apparel