Is All Fur Bad?

“When PETA pops up, you know it’s that time of year, with temperatures dropping, gift guides proliferating and fur once again becoming a topic of debate, setting activists against enthusiasts, man against nature, indulgence against ethics. But as the holiday season begins, it may be worth pausing to consider another idea, courtesy of a designer who exists far outside mainstream fashion… to say that Peter Paul Kawagaelg Williams, the founder of Shaman Furs, is not a fashion person would be putting it mildly.”V. Friedman, The New York Times

Peter Paul Kawagaelg Williams, the founder of Shaman Furs, performs a smudging ceremony for his hunting rifle outside his home in Sitka, Alaska. Credit James Poulson for The New York Times.

Peter Paul Kawagaelg Williams, the founder of Shaman Furs, performs a smudging ceremony for his hunting rifle outside his home in Sitka, Alaska. Credit James Poulson for The New York Times.

“He is, rather, a somewhat scruffy 34-year-old Alaska Native with long hair and no formal design education who identifies as an environmental activist and member of the Yup’ik tribe, and who has made it his mission to reintroduce style to the allure of sea otter. Not to mention the idea of traditional subsistence hunting, and the value of knowing your clothes.

On the one hand, there is the popular (and justifiable) distaste for anything that involves the killing of cute, cuddly creatures. On the other is Mr. Williams’s homegrown but broadly resonant and deeply felt theory about ‘mis-consumption’ and the way we have become disconnected from what goes in our closets — and on our bodies.

PETA ad.

PETA ad.

‘We don’t want to think about the plants we are wearing when we wear cotton, and we don’t want to think about life and death,’ he said in phone interview from Alaska. He thinks it should be the opposite.

t-shirt-by-zazzle

t-shirt-by-zazzle

Mr. Williams comes to this belief as part of his birthright, and he expresses it in the form of a pencil skirt. He calls hand-sewing a “prayer” and says that for him, hunting equals environmentalism equals spirituality. For him, the universal language of fashion is the best vehicle for amplifying the heritage and legacy of his people while at the same time ensuring the future of those people — in part because his staple material is one of the most precious pelts no longer widely available.

mr-williams-salts-a-seal-skin-on-the-beach-near-his-home-credit-james-poulson-for-the-new-york-times

mr-williams-salts-a-seal-skin-on-the-beach-near-his-home-credit-james-poulson-for-the-new-york-times

Mr. Williams walks with a model wearing his pencil skirt made from sealskin.

Mr. Williams walks with a model wearing his pencil skirt made from sealskin.

Shaman Furs, a one-man operation run out of a 900-square-foot trailer that doubles as atelier and apartment, specializes in hats, vests, earrings and pencil skirts made from sea otter and sealskin, pelts that Mr. Williams harvests, designs and sews himself (the only part of the process he outsources is the tanning) in an elaborate combination of traditional ritual and modern basics.

earrings-from-shaman-furs

earrings-from-shaman-furs

It involves an aluminum skiff, “smudging” (ritualistically cleansing the body and spirit with Labrador tea smoke), a .223 Ruger bolt-action rifle, a skinning knife, thanking each animal for the gift of its life, and the rite of giving the otter or seal a last drink of water after its death. The ritual doesn’t obviate the visceral nature of the hunt, even for Mr. Williams, but that is part of the point.

mr-williamss-home-in-sitka-alaska-credit-james-poulson-for-the-new-york-times

mr-williamss-home-in-sitka-alaska-credit-james-poulson-for-the-new-york-times

It’s not that he expects to convince PETA. His clothes don’t make that kind of statement and probably couldn’t if they tried. He’s just trying to unpick assumptions, one stitch or pair of earmuffs at a time.”

“I want to maintain the individual relationship I have with the animals, and create an intimate experience for those wearing my work.” ~ Peter Paul Kawagaelg Williams~ Yup’ik tribe, Alaska

Category: Alaskan Natives

Warriors and Wolves

“Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a tough problem and it’s not just a problem for veterans. We just think of veterans when we think of PTSD…their families get the PTSD problem stacked on top of the other issues. Lockwood Animal Rescue Center near Frazier Park, California refers to their PTSD work as Warriors and Wolves.” S. Russell, ICTMNlockwood-animal-rescue-center

Excerpt: Warriors and Wolves; Disappearing Nooksacks By Steve Russell,ICTMN

living-with-wolves-saved-my-life

living-with-wolves-saved-my-life

“I’ve always thought it makes sense to worry about the effect of combat on veterans because even if the government lied about the reasons for fighting, the GIs often think they are fighting for us and they always think they are fighting for the GIs to their right and their left caught up in the same battle. LARC rescues wolves and wolf-dog hybrids who face an automatic death sentence in ordinary animal shelters because they are thought to be too dangerous for pets.

untitledAt LARC, they are allowed to live like wolves, but they do appear to bond with a human caretaker. In the Warriors and Wolves program, the wolves make the decisions. LARC just provides the opportunity by bringing in combat veterans as caretakers. According to LARC, the wolves have been excellent judges of character and the veterans find that bonding with a wolf levels out fight and flight impulses better than conventional therapy.”

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Category: Animals, Healing

Natives giving “Thanks” on Thanksgiving…Maybe

“All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey… actually the foliage is awash with color but it is time for the annoying trilogy of holidaze that vex us as Natives. Ah yes, ‘tis the season of Columbus Day, Halloween and the American Thanksgiving. This trifecta of annoying events makes me SMH in befuddlement at the ignorance, crass behavior and borderline bigotry of those that continue the misanthropic adherence to the myths, rituals and customs of these celebrations.” A. Cramblit, ICTMN

Excerpt: Holiday Head Scratchers for Natives  By Andre Cramblit ICTMN

“Thanksgiving is full of romanticized notions of two peoples coming together to share in the bounty of the harvest. Sitting around a ravaged turkey carcass singing kum ba yah was definitely not the origins of this seasonal football fest.photo-d

Massachusetts Bay Colonial Governor William Winthrop proclaimed the first official Day of Thanksgiving in 1637. The reason for this celebration? The festivities were held to mark the recent success of the Pequot massacre. Apparently the Gov’nah felt the need to commemorate the slaughter of nearly 700 men, women and children. Serve that with a slice of pumpkin pie, (I like extra dream whip on my piece).

pequots

This is indeed as good a time as any to show gratitude for having lived another year and that hopefully you are surrounded by loved ones and are in good health… As you pass through each day, give thanks to your ancestors for their courage and perseverance; know that wherever you are the soil under your feet is the land of some Tribe and is sacred, and remember that you are a role model. Save the drumstick for me please.

thanksgiving

“As Native people we are encouraged to be thankful, to be mindful of the good in the world… Give thanks to Creation for giving us the food and natural environment we need to sustain ourselves.”  ~ Andre Cramblit~  A Karuk Tribal Member from the Klamath and Salmon rivers in northwest California

Category: Holidays

Natives Need to Ready Themselves for BATTLE!

Hope is a beautiful thing – but this is no time for idle hope. This is no time for simply hoping Donald Trump will suddenly become moderate and responsible and sober and less vicious when he slithers onto the American throne this winter. Don’t be fooled, folks. Trump doesn’t only believe he WON on Tuesday, bullwhipping the Democratic party and Hillary Clinton into whimpering hippies, he also believes he BOUGHT the presidency.” S.Moya-Smith,ICTMN

war-paint-by-steven-judd

war-paint-by-steven-judd

 

Excerpt: Small Hands On Deck. Donald Will Be ‘The Donald’ As POTUS By Simon Moya-smith

“The biggest mistake any of us could can make going forward into the bleak unknown would be to think ‘the Donald’ won’t be the racist, fleecing shill and sham he was all along the campaign trail. He’s a snake. And snakes bite, and this fanged f**ker has venom, jack. Watch your ankles. You heard it here.

donald-snake trump

donald-snake trump

Two months, folks. That’s it. Two months before President Barack Obama zips off in a helli’, calling it eight years and a presidency. Two months before the Orange creature lockjaws on your rights and freedoms. Two months of semi-sanity (all has changed now, overnight).

Obama has just a little more than eight weeks to kill the Dakota Access Pipeline and free Leonard Peltier. In the meantime, water protectors mend and ready themselves for the next rabid attack by Morton County Sheriffs – the REAL foaming dogs of Energy Transfer Partners…So it is.

artist-steven-judd

artist-steven-judd

Two months, and then it begins. Round 1 in a four-round bout. It could be an eight rounder. Whose to say? This is, after all, the nation that elected George Dubya two times. Frightened yet?

apache-tribe-gets-ready

apache-tribe-gets-ready

Awake yet? Well you damn well should be. Either way, put on your gloves.  Spar with friends. Toughen your core. Because there’s no question now – a battle’s coming.”

“I am, awake. I am, ready. How about you?” ~ Simon Moya-Smith~

Category: Politics

Remembering Our Veterans

“On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.”

psischiefs-org

psischiefs-org

Excerpts:

THE GREAT WAR & ARMISTICE DAY

“Though the Treaty of Versailles was signed on June 28, 1919, November 11 remained in the public imagination as the date that marked the end of the Great War. In November 1919, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day. The day’s observation included parades and public gatherings, as well as a brief pause in business activities at 11 a.m. On November 11, 1921, an unidentified American soldier killed in the war was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Congress had declared the day a legal federal holiday in honor of all those who participated in the war. On the same day the previous year, unidentified soldiers were laid to rest at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

FROM ARMISTICE DAY TO VETERANS DAY

American effort during World War II (1941-1945) saw the greatest mobilization of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force in the nation’s history (more than 16 million people); some 5.7 million more served in the Korean War (1950 to 1953). In 1954, after lobbying efforts by veterans’ service organizations, the 83rd U.S. Congress amended the 1938 act that had made Armistice Day a holiday, striking the word “Armistice” in favor of “Veterans.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the legislation on June 1, 1954. From then on, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.”

native-vets

Category: Holidays

Reasons Natives Need To Vote For Hillary Clinton and Democratic Party

“What does a landslide look like? And, more important, what would that mean for Native American candidates? First: Hillary Clinton is peaking at the ideal moment. And, at the same time, Donald Trump’s campaign is imploding. He had a bad week, a poor debate, and he’s out of time to change the conversation.” M. Trahant-ICTMN

native-candidates-for-us-house-of-representatives

native-candidates-for-us-house-of-representatives

Excerpt: A Landslide? That Would Be Great News for Native Americans By Mark Trahant

“But more important than all of that…people on the ground methodically reminding people to vote…According to CNN, working with a data company, Calalist, says more than 3.3 million Americans have already voted. And based on demographic profiles, Democrats are stronger now than they were four years ago in North Carolina, Nevada, Arizona and Utah. Democratic early turnout has stayed steady in North Carolina compared to 2012, while Republicans have dropped by about 14,500.hillary-3

And, in North Dakota, there have been 67,837 requests for ballots and 25,662 people have already voted (including me.) Denise Juneau, Chase Iron Eyes, Marlo Hunte-Beaubrun, Ruth Buffalo, Henry Red Cloud, Tom Cole, Mark Wayne Mullin, Joe Pakootas… are running on the Democratic-NPL ticket. Back to my lede: What would a landslide mean for the Native American candidates?… a presidential landslide could be a factor.” 

native-americans-native-american-legislation-voting-rights-registering-to-vote-1948-photo-history-com

Native-American-legislation-voting-rights-registering-to-vote-1948-photo-history-com

“VOTE Like Your Right to vote Depends on it.” ~Anonymous~election-2016

use-this-one-2016

“Our Lives Begin to End The Day We become SILENT about Things that Matter.” ~Martin Luther King Jr.~

Category: Politics