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Updated: 26th November 2019 03:05Thanksgiving Hostess Gifts That Benefit Natives | HuffPost Life
Home & Living

Thanksgiving Hostess Gifts That Benefit Natives

These 14 gifts support local businesses and a community that frequently gets neglected this time of year.

It’s important to remember that not only is November the month for Thanksgiving, but it’s also Native American Heritage Month. If you want to celebrate Turkey Day but don’t want to ignore the Native traditions and histories that often get overlooked this time of year, you can pair your table offering with a hostess gift from a Native entrepreneur or an Indigenous-owned company.

While major retailers typically bombard customers with one-day sales and promise the best prices of the season, shopping smaller, Native-run brands in November allows consumers to support local businesses and a community that frequently gets neglected around a holiday that some Indigenous people see as a day of mourning.

Your Thanksgiving dinner host would probably prefer an elegant silk scarf from a company with Indigenous founders or a practical tote bag by an Acoma Pueblo artist to a Tupperware container filled with boxed stuffing or instant mashed potatoes. Even if you’re basically Ina Garten in the kitchen, a cutting board or handcrafted coasters will outlast the green beans or stuffing you whipped up. And you can pair it all with a bottle of vino from an Indigenous-owned winery. Not only will you be acknowledging the hardship and appropriation that can often take place around Thanksgiving, you’ll be paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions that November aims to honor.

Then, when the meal wraps up — because the food has run out or no one can eat any more — the host can cuddle up under a blanket by an Ojibwe/Cree/Metis artist and slip into some Manitobah Mukluks moccasins.

Scroll on for a range of hostess gifts that keep Indigenous people in mind during Native American Heritage Month.

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1
Manitobah Mukluks Tipi Moccasins
Courtesy of Manitobah Mukluks
Nothing says cold weather coziness like a warm pair of slippers, so grab Manitobah Mukluks’ top-selling moccasins so your host can get comfortable after a day of running around to please their guests. The Indigenous-owned company produces part of its footwear at its Indigenous-owned production facility in Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada, and strives to celebrate those values and keep the culture alive through classes at its Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School. Manitobah Mukluks’ Storyboot Project collection gives 100 percent of its proceeds to the artists, a group of elders and artisans who craft mukluks and moccasins in the time-honored fashion.

Manitobah Mukluks Tipi Moccasins, $69.99
2
Eighth Generation Tote Bag
Eighth Generation
This Seattle-based company takes an artist-centric approach to 100 percent Native-designed products like its tote bags. The Dancing Dragonflies tote comes from Acoma Pueblo artist Michelle Lowden, who found inspiration in her dad’s cottonwood sculptures and the cultural significance of the dragonfly; the Acoma Pueblo view the dragonfly as a positive sign or an indicator of good luck. Lowden also represents one of Eighth Generation’s Inspired Natives Project collaborators.

Eighth Generation Tote Bag, $24
3
Sequoia Mini Soap Gift Set
Courtesy of Sequoia
The holidays tend to get messy, so keep it clean with an arrangement of four 1-ounce soaps. Founder Michaelee, who quit her job as an engineer to launch her company over 15 years ago, named her business after the Cherokee chief who developed their alphabet that allowed the language to be written. Michaelee makes all of the natural products by hand and hopes they find a home with customers who appreciate their Indigenous connection.

Sequoia Mini Soap Gift Set, $14
4
Mother Earth Essentials Handmade Soy Candle
Courtesy of Mother Earth Essentials
Carrie Armstrong, who comes from a line of Cree Medicine women, founded this Canadian Indigenous-owned company that offers a Wildrose Cranberry candle perfect for the transition from fall to winter. Armstrong is passionate about sharing her Indigenous heritage and the spiritual properties she inherited from the elders and medicine people, and she infuses their traditional teachings into all of Mother Earth Essentials’ products.

Mother Earth Essentials Handmade Soy Candle, $20
5
Bedré Fine Chocolate Gift Basket
Courtesy of Bedré Fine Chocolate
Bringing dessert? Instead of adding yet another pie to the mix, share sweet treats from a company owned by the Chickasaw Nation, the only tribe to create its own brand of fine chocolate. Bedré blends ancient tradition with modern flavor to reflect the time-honored tradition of the peoples who first cultivated chocolate and gives back to numerous nonprofits within the Chickasaw Nation.

Bedré Fine Chocolate Gift Basket, starting at $26.50
6
The Shotridge Collection's Glass Cutting Board/Serving Tray
Courtesy of The Shotridge Collection
The company’s namesake, Tlingit master artist/carver Israel Shotridge, belongs to the Bear Clan of the Tongass Tribe, and he’s been creating traditional Tlingit artistry for over 35 years. The 13 cutting board designs feature authentic Indigenous formline art designs that each represent an element of Northwestern tribes’ culture. For example, the Salmon Run design (pictured) shows salmon that are essential to the nutrition of Northwestern tribes. If you’re thinking ahead to Christmas, pick up the circular Frog Wreath or Winter Owl design.

The Shotridge Collection's Glass Cutting Board/Serving Tray, $55-$65
7
Twisted Cedar Native American Wine
Courtesy of Twisted Cedar Native American Wine
Gathering around the table with family often requires wine, so order a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, malbec or one of the company’s other four varieties from a vineyard blessed by an Elder of the Band. The brand’s name pays homage to the Cedar Band, one of the five Bands of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, and its wines serve as a tribute to its people.

Twisted Cedar Native American Wine, $12.95-$14.95
8
SheNative Passion Purse
Sweetmoon Photography
As part of the company’s mission to instill women with strength and confidence using the teachings from Indigenous Nationhood, designers Tori-Lynn Wanotch and Shasta Mike created this leather purse to commemorate the wearer’s passions that help them discover who they are. SheNative employs Indigenous women to design and manufacture its goods, incorporates Indigenous communities and customers into its design process, and gives back at least 10 percent of its profits to help support economic growth for Indigenous women.

SheNative Passion Purse, $70
9
SweetGrass Coffee
Courtesy of SweetGrass Trading Company
Give your host a caffeine boost with this blend, available in both Morning Star and Evening Star varieties. The company — which is a subsidiary of the economic development corporation of Nebraska’s Winnebago Tribe — boasts a Native Scholarship Program for college students who are enrolled members of tribes on reservations in the organization’s sales area.

SweetGrass Coffee, starting at $11
10
Heart Berry Old Style Ceramic Mug
Courtesy of Heart Berry
Put your Indigenous coffee in a mug created by Anishinaabe artist and designer Sarah Agaton Howes, who pulled from an old drawing of her grandpa's beadwork for the design. Howes, from Fond du Lac Nation in Minnesota, is a collaborator through Eighth Generation’s Inspired Natives Project, a business and educational initiative that brings in entrepreneurs in hopes of raising awareness about the cultural and economic impact of cultural appropriation and misrepresentation. The program also aims to place more goods on the market that responsibly align with Indigenous themes and aesthetics.

Heart Berry Old Style Ceramic Mug, $12
11
ACONAV Silk Charmeuse Scarf
Courtesy of ACONAV
Founders Loren (Acoma Pueblo) and Valentina (Navajo) Aragon started their fashion brand with an aim to offer a respectful representation of their cultures in fashion and specifically honor the Acoma Pueblo whose traditions and culture influence their designs, as seen on their silk charmeuse scarves, a classy touch to any fall outfit. The Phoenix-based company also celebrates the strength and empowerment of women around the world.

ACONAV Silk Charmeuse Scarf, $95-$150
12
Medicine Of The People Gift Box
Courtesy of Medicine of the People
For the stressed host, Medicine of the People offers a roundup of its sore joint cream, sore joint rub and sore joint massage oil. Leonard Marcus and Virginia Boone-Marcus launched their herb company to create a line of handmade traditional Navajo herbal remedies that have their people’s needs in mind. They also encourage customers to buy locally in Tucson, Arizona, where they’re based.

Medicine of the People Gift Box, $75
13
Beyond Buckskin Soul Curiosity Blanket
Courtesy of Beyond Buckskin
Being Ojibwe/Cree/Metis, designer Tessa Sayers (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) wanted this sherpa throw featuring modern Ojibwe floral designs to also represent her Pacific Northwest roots since over half of Indigenous people live off the reservation today. Sayers’ mission to pay tribute to her identity and her journey to self-acceptance influence the collection, and she hopes her story will inspire others to take pride in their roots and individual stories, too.

Beyond Buckskin Soul Curiosity Blanket, $65
14
Trickster Coasters
Courtesy of Trickster
Siblings Rico and Crystal Worl launched Trickster with a focus on Northwest Coast art and themes and issues of Indigenous culture. Their variety of laser-cut coasters come hand-crafted from Alaska to help protect your host’s table from piping hot cider or mulled wine.

Trickster Coasters, $39

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