Contemporary and Traditional Native American Hand Made
Open Daily (510) 528-9038
1412 Solano Avenue Albany CA 94706

Why We Represent Indigenous Arts of the Americas

By Pennie Opal Plant, owner of Gathering Tribes

My family descends from Indigenous ancestors on the both sides of the border separating Mexico and the United States.  I understood as a young person that the imaginary line separating both sides of my family was created from someone's imagination and that my Indigenous ancestors had been in the Americas since before time was created. 

At Gathering Tribes we rejoice in the traditional and contemporary expressions of Indigenous artisans.  The wide varieties of art, crafts and jewelry that we offer are a glimpse into the similarities and differences of the many Indigenous nations in the Americas. 

We are still here.  We have survived.  Our traditional people and traditional knowledge keepers hold keys on how our human family can move forward toward a healthy and safe future at this dangerous time.  Many Indigenous people still live where their people have always been and continue to maintain their "Original Instructions" on how to live sustainably and in balance within the natural evironment.  Thankfully, these instructions can help all people understand how to be in alignment with the laws of Mother Earth.  Human laws do not override the natural laws of our planet and we must all understand how to live within these concepts in order to prevent chaos and a survivable climate.

Given the state of the United States now with hysteria about migrants, I offer this poem that I wrote in 2016:

no word for migrant 
 
they walked
for hundreds, thousands of miles
they walked
up and down
side to side
along rivers up mountains through deserts and forests
they walked
 
from the time before time
they visited these people
and those people
trading this and that
learning and teaching and sharing
along trade routes 
long forgotten
but which the land still remembers
the feet of the ancestors gently
walking
 
my own grandmother walked
all the way from Guanajuato, Mexico
she walked with two babies
my aunt and uncle
looking for her husband who
had come north for work
she walked all the way to the bay area
looking and looking and looking for him
 
she never found him
but she did find a better life
working in the canneries
working in the richmond shipyards
during ww2
she built her casita
with her own hands
still standing in san pablo
with the fruit and nut trees she planted
fig and walnut and apple
the best figs I’ve ever tasted
are still coming to fruition 
on her old fig tree
 
she is long gone
but her memory and her trees
still live 
she wasn’t shunned or unwanted in
her new homeland
only her last husband
(a man I never liked from new mexico)
threatened her with 
la migra when they argued
she didn’t care one way or another
she knew who she was
but finally tiring of his threats
she became a citizen of this place 
north of her southern place of birth
this place where our ancestors visited
for thousands of years before
the imaginary line was
placed on the map by those
needing to control something
equally imagined: a nation
 
nations are always temporary
in the long life of mother earth
they come and they go
the hatefulness of the fearful
will pass with time
their imagined laws and lines
which cross the land
will dissipate
and we will remain
like our ancestors
who still remain here in these lands
their bones breathed in through
the dust on the winds
 
there was no word for migrant in
the time before time 
the borders that crossed us
are imaginary lines
of a temporary nation
 
we will always be here
we will always find a way
to do what we have always done
that is how we are
this is what we do
we are part of this land
which knows us and loves us
and that is the secret that
keeps us safe
 
- pennie opal plant, march 2016

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