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Powwow booth broadens vendor participation

Courtesy Robin Tekaiakenhtha Marquis

When Daisy Lahache was growing up, it was her dream to sell her crafts at the Echoes of a Proud Nation Powwow.

“I think for Indigenous Peoples, there’s such a sense of pride in being able to set up at powwow and sell your things, your handmade items that you put your time and effort and love into,” she said.

Lahache, the young founder of Healing Arts Project, is finally setting up a booth at the powwow. Her goal is not to fulfill her dream, however, but to share it with others, creating space for up-and-coming artists and artisans who would not otherwise be featured there.

A shared booth is something Lahache had in mind when she originally applied for funding for the Healing Arts Project, which organizes workshops for youth facilitated by local artists.

She remembers how difficult getting a booth seemed when she was younger. “I didn’t know the resources or what sort of application process there would be, or who you’d have to know or talk to to be able to do those things,” she said.

“As I got older and I was put in the position to make it possible, I wanted to make sure to make it as accessible as we could.”

To this end, Healing Arts Project is covering vendor fees and providing food vouchers to the participants.

Lahache hopes to build on what she learns by continuing to host sharing booths and even coaching local artists to become solo vendors. She predicts that despite all her preparations, she will realize there are materials missing that she will have to arrange at the last minute.

“I’d like to do a little powwow checklist (to outline) how to prepare for your first powwow, a little how-to guide for somebody else to make it a little bit easier,” she said.

While the booth was initially open only to those 30 and younger, Healing Arts Project decided to open the application to artists and artisans of all ages.

Robin Tekaiakenhtha Marquis and her daughter Jayla White are among the Kahnawa’kehró:non who will participate as vendors with Healing Arts Project at the powwow.

“I’ve been wanting to get certain family members and friends to get a booth together and sell our crafts, but it just never happened, so I’m very happy for this opportunity,” said Marquis, who will be selling prints of her paintings and designs.

Marquis has always sold her work on Facebook, so being a vendor will be a new experience for her.

“I’m a little nervous and have to come out of my comfort zone, but it’s an amazing and generous opportunity that I can’t say no to,” she said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a very proud moment for me if selling my prints turns out to be a success.”

Her daughter, nearly 13, will be selling beaded earrings that she made by hand. Marquis hopes the experience will deepen her daughter’s interest in beadwork and show her it is possible to create a successful small business by carrying forward Kanien’kehá:ka culture.

Lahache began similarly as a child by making traditional crafts. She still recalls her pride when others saw value in her work at craft fairs, especially as she became more skilled, and she wants other artists to experience the same feeling.

“I feel really grateful…. I want to keep on providing opportunities like this,” she said.

“Clay sculptures, beadwork, ceramics, silversmithing. We (Kanien’kehá:ka) used to do it for a long time, and we still do. It’s modern-day arts and culture, and (we are) keeping it going, sharing it at the powwow and meeting other artists.”

gmbankuti@gmail.com

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