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How Eighth Generation empowers Native artists

The shop near Pike Place continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

EighthGeneration_SEA

Eighth Generation moved to a more visible spot at 1406 First Ave. over the summer.

Photo via Eighth Generation

Eighth Generation has been on cloud nine this year.

First, the Native-owned, Seattle-based shop that highlights goods from other Native artists moved to a bigger and more visible location near its old one in Pike Place Market. Then, a Coast Salish wool blanket designed by the shop’s founder Louie Gong made the cover of British Vogue when Blackfeet actress Lily Gladstone wore it to promote “The Killers of the Flower Moon.”

“It feels like my ancestors are finally being seen,” said Gong. “It’s wild to think that the journey to this cover started with me and a Sharpie.”

Early sketches

Twenty years ago, Gong customized Vans with a marker in his living room, hand-drawing his modern take on Coast Salish art. He learned how to sell his works online, founding Eighth Generation in 2008.

In 2016, Eighth Generation opened a storefront at Pike Place Market and became one of the fastest growing Native-owned companies in the US and Canada. Success gave the shop power to choose collaborations that aligned with its ideals.

“Eighth Generation is a blueprint for Native artists who want to make a living with their art in a good way,” said Gong. “Economic sovereignty is the key to self determination because it gives us the power to say ‘no.’”

An art print that shows abstract shapes around the face of a sheep

Prints like this one from Louie Gong are produced and shipped globally at Eighth Generation.

Photo via Louie Gong

Buying with intention

Gong has since sold the business to the Snoqualmie tribe and now works out of his home. “I really want to distill how I use my time — I’m committed to becoming an art student again by working with watercolor and ink,” he said.

But Gong continues to advocate for the brand. In November, he appeared in a video about Google’s new initiative to make sure consumers know which products are from Indigenous-owned businesses.

You can also still find Gong’s designs — including that Coast Salish blanket — at Eighth Generation. Keep an eye out for items other Native artists as you finish up your holiday shopping.

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