You probably follow me on social media, and have seen me post this statement there. But in the event you don’t, and given the lens of this blog, I figured it made sense to include it here, in full.
Please let me know your thoughts and thank you for continuing in this fruitful dialogue amongst our makers in our making community. It’s good, and important, work. And we all have to do it. Not one; not some; but all.
In recent days, I’ve seen @makingzine’s latest issue, desert no. 7, celebrated again and again through social media. I wanted, too, to celebrate; after all, the desert is a place, in some ways, I call home, and the pattern and design of this magazine I subscribe to has always been anticipated with excitement.
As an indigenous person in the United States with extended family living on the Isleta Pueblo Reservation in New Mexico and a partner who is Navajo, the glaring omission of Natives in the latest issue of the magazine isn’t just about our recent conversations in the fiber community relating to inclusivity and diversity of makers and their makes; it’s about a longstanding belief in this country that Native peoples no longer exist–that we are in the past, that we are long gone. This erasure does deep harm; and in an issue that celebrates the place from which many indigenous people still reside and create some of the most profound fiber art, is deeply harmful. It’s harmful to me, personally, as a fiber enthusiast; and it’s harmful to how their readers see and view the desert.
There are countless examples, even here on social media, of my fellow indigenous fiber artists creating and celebrating their work. There are artists who raise churro, shear, spin, dye, and weave some of the world’s most intricate, and beautiful, rugs. They use every bit of the desert landscape and they share it with a wider audience on this platform we so love and use to engage with other fiber enthusiasts. You chose not to see them, to engage them, or to celebrate them. It’s erasure.
I reached out to Making privately to ask why the glaring omission; I did get a response that indicated some action plan and some details around the issue going to print before the conversations erupted around diversity in our knitting community.
But my question to Making is this: Natives have been on that desert land for centuries. Did you need a conversation through Instagram to realize that? Did you know, when you took those photos of patterns for that issue, that you all were walking on Native land? Or were you seeing that place through a lens to which you’ve been systematically taught: as a new discovery, with you and your experience at the center, negating the existence and connection of the people who are originally tied to the land you visited?
I sat on their response for a week to process my feelings and await their public response. I expected a statement around why they omitted indigenous voices and how they will do better moving forward. An acknowledgement. And it never came. What came is repost after repost from customers celebrating the issue. This felt like a misstep to me greater than the initial omission.
Let’s face it: I’m used to indigenous people being left out. Erased. I’m sick of being used to it.
So now, I tell you: celebrate the artists in this issue. Celebrate the beautiful things that come out of creating. But don’t celebrate this quiet response; this set of excuses. Celebrate any recognition of the gaping hole. And for folks who make mistakes? It’s ok. Lean into those; and don’t seek absolution through prayer hands emojis while asking others who are pointing these issues out to find understanding and patience in your inaction.