Our First Year
Native Works started out as a way to give some of our Chief Seattle Club members a part-time job as Apprentices, a gateway to full-time employment and from there, housing. At the beginning, the Native Works Team focused a lot on the social enterprise aspect of this program in order to create self-sustainability. Recently, we have refocused the program towards the workforce development aspect of the Native Works program. Being a trauma informed and indigenous aware vocational rehabilitation program, the success of our Apprentices means the success of Native Works. Since focusing on assisting our Apprentices gain full-time employment two months ago, three of our Apprentices have “graduated” the Native Works program and obtained gainful employment, with many others close to gaining full-time employment as well.
Over the last year, Native Works has transformed from simply making bracelets and earrings sold at Pike Place Market, to having a hand printed t-shirt and greeting card line along with all the new jewelry sold additionally at other shops and our online store. The program has grown, evolved and adapted to the needs of the Apprentices as well, becoming a program that not only the Chief Seattle Club members know about and want to be a part of, but is growing in reputation with the Native community. The impacts that we’ve made are far reaching.
First, Native Works became one of the only Native American owned businesses at Pike Place Market, offering authentic Native American and Alaskan Native art work in the community’s effort to end cultural appropriation. Every person who shops and talks with our sales agent at the market learns about the struggles of Native relatives facing homelessness, educating our neighbors and visitors about the issues Chief Seattle Club is fighting to resolve. Native Works is also giving exposure to more Native Artists. Our product line continues to expand in not only the types of art work available, but in the artists who’ve contributed in one way or another to the line. These artists include, Cleo Keahna, Roger Fernandez, JohnPaul Jones, Jennifer Younger and many more. The list of contributing Native Artists continues to increase.
Second, Native Works has been instrumental in creating partnerships with well-known local organizations and companies such as, Eighth Generation, SAM, MOHAI, UW and many others. These partnerships have helped not only Native Works to grow as a program and enterprise, but have opened up opportunities to partner with Chief Seattle Club as a whole.
Lastly, and most importantly, is the impact the Native Works program has made on our members lives. This impact is varied and far reaching in itself. We see on a daily basis, the improvement of the Apprentice’s mental health and confidence. This is immeasurable and the most rewarding part of the program. Each Apprentice has benefited and improved in their own way.
Looking ahead in 2019
In 2019, Native Works will continue to expand our product line by working with new Native Artists and continuing to design our own unique art works. The ultimate goal of this workforce development program is to assist as many Chief Seattle Club members as we can into full-time employment in a trauma informed and indigenous aware environment, with Native Works as the gateway. The best part of this program is that our relatives have a place to feel safe and secure while relearning, or learning for the first time, the skills and behaviors needed to obtain and sustain full-time employment.
When we look back at 2018 we are proud to have watched our apprentices and our product line grow together and because of one another. We had multiple campaigns, new product launches, curated art shows and opportunities to engage in dialogue on issues regarding social justice. We are proud of how far our social enterprise has come in just one year and it would not have been possible without the support of you; our followers, funders and friends.
We hope that as we embark on 2019 the words of Kim Smith will inspire you
"Health is not just about what you're eating. It is also about what you are thinking, saying and your environment. 'Healing the Land is Healing my Body' is about my journey to reclaim ancestral knowledge for my health but also my journey to healing my families land and watershed."
We think all parts are interconnected and we are working to create a healthier Native future for all our relations.
So from all of us here at Native Works, we wish you a happy and Healthy 2019.