| All Native Creations Focus on Celebrating Culture, Wellness
Creative artistry merged with cultural understanding brings about wellness and healing. That’s the message championed by Lisa Brown, founder and operator of All Native Creations, an artist co-op based in Newport, Oregon.
Brown, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians, started the artist co-op last year, with an emphasis on featuring the works of Native American tribal members and descendants. By showcasing Native arts and crafts, she leverages years of experience in providing services "to assist tribal members to eliminate barriers, create plans for financial sufficiency, and to share info regarding concepts to assure emotional, physical and spiritual wellness.”
Through All Native Creations, Brown leads the artist co-op and educates patrons though art and cultural workshops. Her training as a Certified Prevention Specialist has influenced her emphasis on the role of art and cultural education in mental and emotional wellness.
Brown began her involvement in Siletz tribe pow-wows in 1988. “I learned how to make regalia and market products,” she says.
In 1990, she began working for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and learned much from the experience. “I worked for the loan program and helping people with tribal enrollment” she says. Soon, she achieved certification to serve as a counselor to help members overcome addictions. “I found out about relapse prevention, and the importance of helping people acquires the skills, knowledge and education. My goal was to teach people how to be and stay employable.”
For Brown, the statistics involving relapse cases were overwhelming: It was estimated that among Native communities, 7 out of 10 people in addiction recovery programs will relapse. “I was related to everyone I was working with, which made it very difficult for me to do that job. It was too hard to watch that happen. As hard as we were working, there weren’t adequate resources to help people to prevent relapse,” she says.
Merging her counseling background with cultural heritage and arts education was a natural progression for Brown’s endeavors. She relishes her role in leading the artists’ co-op, and shares jewelry making ideas and techniques with other artists.
Brown remains an active member of the Siletz tribe, officiating culture camps and recently completed training as a tribal court advocate. In addition to her involvement with the Siletz tribe’s alcohol and drug program, she also has worked on the addressing the meth epidemic in the tribal community.
|Lisa Brown dons native regalia at a recent pow-wow. Photo credit: M. Forster
She mentors other artists throughout the year at numerous venues, including the Siletz tribe pow-wows scheduled in August and November. She continues her counseling work, augmenting her addictions recovery curriculum with arts education. “I help people develop assets or strengths so that they don’t have to make inappropriate choices,” she says.
The All Native Creations shop, located in Aquarium Village in Newport, Oregon, is not your typical beading or jewelry store. Artist works are featured, but patrons are encouraged not only to purchase completed works, but to learn how to make them. Brown keeps a huge inventory of beading supplies at the shop. “We sell the pieces individually, but for people who want to learn how to create their own jewelry, we also offer instruction,” she says. For those customers who are looking for authentic Native American made products, the shop markets items in compliance with the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.
Artist co-op members volunteer 16 hours every month to staff the shop or attend events. In exchange, All Native Creations provides a venue for the member artists to showcase their work at the shop and through the All Native Creations website. Artists also receive purchase discounts for materials. “Sometimes, we get an order for necklaces and other items, and member artists have an opportunity to do piecework. At the shop, we always have about six items from each artist available for sale. We also travel with each artist’s work,” Brown says.
Being able to experience a busy Saturday afternoon at All Native Creations offered a remarkable insight into Lisa's operations. She expertly juggled addressing questions by patrons about featured works, taking time for an impromptu art, and tending to our interview. Humility ranks high among all virtues, and Brown credits the generosity of numerous elders and spiritual teachings, for allowing her to share knowledge about balance and respect for the earth and others.
Brown emphasizes that in addition to Native crafts, All Native Creations also features works by artists with Maori, Aztec and even Celtic heritage. “The most enjoyable aspect of my work is being able to change people’s perceptions and to educate them about other cultures,” she says. “I like being able to talk to people other cultural beliefs and point out similarities between different cultures. I think that it’s my obligation to bridge the gaps in understanding, and to encourage diversity and respect for other cultures.”