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 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 work toward 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



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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