At Louie Gong's Pike Place Market store, Eighth Generation, you will find phone cases, jewelry and wool blankets all designed by Native American artists.
“100 percent of the time when we produce a product that features cultural art we use a cultural artist, and 100 percent of the time they get paid,” says Gong.
Many of these designs are by Gong himself, who was raised by his grandparents in the Nooksack Tribal community.
When we first met Gong eight years ago, he was customizing vans with contemporary takes on Coast Salish art.
“You know I never even saw myself as an artist,” says Gong.
But others sure did. Gong couldn't keep up with demand for his hand drawn shoes. So, eventually, he began designing blankets which could be produced in greater quantity.
“So what you see now has really developed organically over the last eight years,” says Gong pointing to the store.
After a blessing ceremony the windows were uncovered in late August and Eighth Generation was opened to the public.
And about that name: Gong likes to say he sells art that will honor the generations that came before and those that will follow.
“I feel very proud of what we've accomplished when I sit in the middle of the new Eighth Generation flagship store,” says Gong. “I'm a little bit overwhelmed that it's come to this point but I'm also excited about the future.
We're not stopping now. I'm even more invigorated to keep pushing forward.”
Gong hopes customers will educate themselves about the difference between “inspired native” art and art that is “native inspired”.
“When you see the term ‘native inspired’ it really means that the art you’re look at has nothing to do with tribal communities,” says Gong. “So consumers can either use their money to support cultural art or they can use their money to undermine the culture.”
You can find Eighth Generation at Pike Place Market, just above the Gum Wall. (93 Pike St #103, Seattle, WA 98101)