This vest represents an obstacle being transformed into an achievement, one of many for Indigenous Peoples. Western history would have you believe that First Nations and Indigenous communities were and are far behind technologically, that our ways are outdated, that time has forgotten us and that we cannot comprehend contemporary ways – that the height of our achievements are leather fringes, tipis, and fry bread.
Objects like this vest, that clearly illustrate our ability to not only learn how to use new materials but also master new methodologies flawlessly and adapt them into our cultures, prove that sentiment wrong.
But this vest disproves not only stereotypes; I hope it also connects Indigenous communities to the fact that we’ve always been more than what textbooks say we are. Our communities have a right to this knowledge and these practices, and I hope this tutorial reconnects everyone – those from reserve communities, those in urban settings, and those maybe just finding out who they are – to our collective histories. This project is meant to connect us to the ancient practice and intent behind making, regardless of how traditional or contemporary you are or how closely you follow the tutorial. This process of making is the closest we will ever get to our ancestors: the means, material, and methodologies may change but our intentions will always be the same.