A Nalgene bottle, Brooks Running apparel, and Nocs binocular bundle all highlight Indigenous artists. Each product serves to amplify or directly benefit Native causes.
Creators Louie Gong, Jaden Redhair, and Amelia Winger-Bearskin all have a few things in common. They’re all Native American, representing the Nooksack, Diné, and Seneca-Cayuga nations, respectively.
They’re also the focal points of three new product collabs that put their contributions as Native artists front and center.
Here’s which brands are working with them, what inspired each product, and how they are elevating Native voices.
Brooks Running: Louie Gong ‘Sasquatch’ Collection
Gong’s Sasquatch collection interprets the legendary forest creature through Indigenous art, culture, and the natural history of the Northwest. Through Gong’s work, Brooks Running aspires to “honor runners’ undeniable connection to the land on which they run.”
The limited-edition collection showcases a Cascadia 16 shoe, T-shirt, and trucker hat.
Gong is Nooksack, and Brooks sought to loop the Snoqualmie Tribe’s interests into its collab. The result is a partnership with the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement.
Jaime Martin, a tribal member and executive director of governmental affairs, spoke to the group’s mission.
“There are many ways that folks can practice mindfulness as they recreate, work, and live on tribal ancestral lands. The Snoqualmie, through the Snoqualmie Tribe Ancestral Lands Movement, is providing information specific to practicing mindfulness and respectful recreation,” Martin explained.
“This ranges from learning more about the tribe and the importance of these lands to us as Snoqualmie people, to taking the time to learn more about traditional foods or Native plants, or supporting the tribe on policy issues that are of importance to [them].”
Gong’s floral print depicts native Northwest plants like big leaf maple and licorice fern. The Sasquatch itself, Brooks said, “is a shapeshifter that protects the natural environment and humans that demonstrate respect.” Wood grain-patterned embellishments on the shoes reflect Sasquatch’s protective qualities, the brand added.
Gong’s work is highly visible elsewhere. He founded Eighth Generation, a Seattle-based Snoqualmie-owned company that seeks to provide “an ethical alternative to ‘Native-inspired’ art and products” by only selling 100% Native-designed works.
Men’s and women’s Cascadia 16 Sasquatch-edition shoes retail for $130 through Brooks Running. The long-sleeve T-shirt costs $46 MSRP, and the short-sleeve costs $36. The trucker hat retails for $28, and the crew socks are $17.
Nalgene: Jaden Redhair ‘Toì éí iiná’ Winter Bottle
Redhair’s “Toì éí iiná” (Water is Life) limited-edition series Nalgene bottles help support efforts to combat an ongoing water crisis in the Navajo Nation. The Nalgene Water Fund (NWF) will donate $5 from every Toì éí iiná bottle it sells to local nonprofits working to address the problem. Currently, about 30% of Navajo families lack running water, according to the Navajo Water Project.
Beneficiaries include the Navajo Water Project, which works to bring running water to reservation homes. The “community-based” utility alternative helps pipe in water to homes not connected to water or sewer lines.
Community Outreach and Patient Empowerment (COPE) also provides community-based outreach in the Navajo Nation, focusing on food-security initiatives. NWF funding has helped the nonprofit install refill stations to transport water from “source to residence in one container.”
Redhair, a 22-year-old member of the Jemez Clan and Stanford University graduate, drew inspiration for this year’s design from a celestial Navajo origin story.
“The most recent ‘Tó éí iiná’ bottle draws from the Navajo story that the stars in the night sky were scattered in place by a coyote,” Redhair said.
“I’m so pleased that my passion for design can educate so many people outside of the Navajo Nation about the essential role of water in our culture and continue to help raise funds toward improving access to clean water for our people.”
Nalgene makes the 32-ounce bottle from Tritan Renew material, derived from 50% recycled plastic. It retails for $20.
The new design arrives as the second in Nalgene’s Toì éí iiná collection. Redhair also worked on the first bottle in 2020, which precipitated $80,000 of nonprofit donations through the NWF.
Nocs: Amelia Winger-Bearskin ‘Honor Native Land’ Binoculars
Winger-Bearskin helped create the Honor Native Land binocular bundle for Nocs. The three-piece collection (binocs, strap, and photo attachment) showcases her nation’s art. But she also brought her position at the U.S. Dept. of Arts and Culture: Honor Native Land nonprofit to the collab.
The nonprofit focuses on observing and honoring Native land by correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous peoples’ history and culture.
The bundle includes the Nocs Standard Issue 8×25 waterproof binocular in two new colors: “Dewdrop Blue” and “Dewdrop Pop” (white). Traditional beadwork from Winger-Bearskin’s Seneca-Cayuga Nation adorns the woven strap. And the Nocs Photo Rig smartphone adapter helps you capture stills through the binoculars.
You can pick it all up now through REI for $150 MSRP.
Winger-Bearskin is part of the Haudenosaunee of the Seneca-Cayuga Nation in what is now Oklahoma. In her career as a software developer and professor, she seeks to honor Native land through artificial intelligence. She founded Wampum.Codes, which is both an award-winning podcast and an ethical framework for software development based on Indigenous values of co-creation.
“For so long, the Indigenous artwork and designs of my people and other nations have been copied, repurposed, and profited from by organizations that have no intention of honoring the original artists,” said Winger-Bearskin.
“This collaboration with Nocs is an example of how native heritage can be recognized and preserved.”