Uplift Native Voices #UNV: Wampumpeg

Uplift Native Voices #UNV: Wampumpeg The Empowerment Initiative (TEI)

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://lhocreations.world/2022/01/12/uplift-native-voices-unv-wampumpeg/
  1. Uplift Native Voices #UNV: Wampumpeg
  2. KFC in The East African Community

I feel very fortunate to be living in a part of America that has Native communities and Native museums.

When I first got to America, I felt like I walked in on an argument. I arrived here via Botswana/ South Africa in February and the year was 2004. We arrived via New York (our port of entry) and it was SO COLD my fingers lost feeling.

From New York, we still had one more flight into Indiana and in Indiana came the assimilation dance I had had to do when we moved into Southern Africa/ The SADC region of Africa from what is currently known as The East African Community. I think our community identity in each region of that continent is profoundly important, but that’s a story for another blog. As I write all of this I do have to add, because I still always get asked, Africa is a continent, the second largest in the world and not one country. The communities do not mean the entire continent is one country. I digress.

As I worked on my assimilation dance in Indiana, I bumped into the argument I mentioned before. I noticed very quickly that people here, identified in color groups and the various color groups always had something to say about the other groups that made up the country.

Now, Natives were some of the groups I heard about. It was always the same recycled information with each new person that shared it. I have now come to find out (through personal interactions and consuming content from Natives) that a lot of that information was birthed from stereotypes and not facts.

I am a lady that was raised in the city but that identifies with various tribal identities.
I love every country I have ever lived in. I am grateful for every country I have visited or that I am now able to shop from with our team. They all hold a part of my heart. As a first gen. American, I cannot fathom people coming to my country of birth and stripping us of everything and actually killing us off. I often think to myself, every time I learn something new about ALL that Natives have endured, that I would have to give it to God in a manner that truly asserted that vengeance is indeed His. If I found out, it was possible to still pray to God in the afterlife for vengeance to be His, that is ALL I would do until He remembered to avenge my people.

So, how do I justify my living and almost thriving in America and on American soil?
I don’t.
I can’t.

Again, I am fortunate enough to now live and work in a part of The US that affords me direct contact with Natives and Native sites. In front of most of these sites there is always a prayer of some kind. Reverence given to what happened, what was taken and the lives that were cut short (stolen). I pray before I walk onto any space with a prayer/ landmark.

I pray after I am done.

For those who know me deeply, you know I dream a lot and take my dreams seriously. Praying is no longer enough (for me). We have a platform. So from this platform, let us share. On a day when we minimally share our posts, we can hit about 250 people by 2:00 PM. Two PM is our super sweet spot when we can easily reach eighty people in under thirty minutes (still trying to understand why). Now, those are 250 people that could learn something about Natives that informs them or that might positively impact future generations.
However small your act is, my goodness, it is something and it is better than doing nothing at all.
Praying isn’t nothing, which is why I engage in it, but praying can also be a form of nothing if there is more you can do. Two hundred and fifty people is better than wanting to believe prayer is enough.

So, I guess that is what this post is.

There will be more posts and even more jewelry using beads, gemstones and archaic artifacts that benefit Native communities.

Sometimes, it is not enough to simply say I am aware and I am sorry it happened (whether you caused the incident or not). Sometimes, it is imperative that we do more. Even if we did not cause the chaos in the past. Being a patriot doesn’t always mean going to war. Sometimes, being a patriot can mean investing your current breaths in securing a more inclusive future for those to come. Be a patriot, if you can be.

Please follow us on Twitter, where we bumped into this video via Business Insider. On there, we reshare a lot of information and petition world leaders, big pharma and big businesses etc to see an issue from an angle. Look us up @LHoCreations.

Published by LHoCreations/ TEI

LHoCreations / The Empowerment Initiative is a self funded social enterprise. @LHoCreations was originally created by two immigrant sisters that identify Kenya and Botswana as their homes. The sisters moved to America with their parents through the Green Card program. In America, they found access to the raw materials such as earring hooks, leather snaps etc that allowed them to move from sketching designs on paper to actually creating their designs. They opened their first store in 2009 in Downtown Noblesville. As of 2019 though, the LHoCreations team started shifting towards truly becoming a social enterprise. We changed from an LLC to a nonprofit organization and we are currently working on paying for our 501(c)3 status. As we shifted, a name change was necessary, however we have gone by @LHoCreations for too long. People look us up using this name and so we left ALL our social media accounts as @LHoCreations but took on a new name with our new identity. We are The Empowerment Initiative. Our Purpose: Our purpose is to connect and empower people across cultural lines through various initiatives. How do we do this: 1. Art and Jewelry Making Classes: We sell art from around the world. We also host classes (upon request) where we produce art with you using our raw materials from around the world. We also offer knitting and crochet classes (upon request). 2. Food: We empower various community efforts by preparing and selling East African inspired dishes. We also (upon request) can join you in your kitchen via zoom to cook with you. 3. Fashion: Shop us. We started off as jewelry and bag designers/ makers. We now co-design and co-produce a lot of what we sell. We shop from other small business traders both within the US and abroad, and make our selection available to you. We are also big on doing our part to reduce fashion waste, so we do sell fashionable finds that bigger fashion brands basically consider "last season" overstock. We offer personal styling (upon request). We offer a lot of classes upon request because each class/ session is customized to suit YOUR unique goals. So for real, just get in touch below. As a social enterprise, we have decided that we are small enough to actively decide that everything we do can in some way benefit someone, somewhere. So just as a heads up, you will see a lot of shifts if goals have been met and new targets have been set. We've decided to be the change we want to see in the world and in deciding this, we've learnt that we have to be more like water than like concrete. Initiatives in 2020: STIPEND INTERNSHIPS/ EDUCATE THE NEXT GENERATION: We took on two paid interns that are grads from Mombasa Baptist High School in Mombasa, Kenya so that they could gain work and marketing experience. One of the intern's mums joined our team as well. They are now part of the team upon request/ when the need arises. One of the interns is actively developing various cultural immersion games we will make available for purchase soon. Each purchase will allow us to work on various initiatives that YOU will be made aware of. LOCAL VOICES MATTER: Through food sales, we were able to contribute a portion to the 2021 Polk Street Review Publication out of Noblesville, Indiana. Earlier this year, The Community Education Arts Org., notified us that they had lost all their regular funding. We decided to help through food sales and it is in recent weeks we learnt that they were going to receive a grant that they had otherwise not expected. A BIG THANK YOU to the various Indiana residents that ordered meals and made our contribution possible. We LOVE being Hoosiers. YOU HELP US GENERATE DIGNIFIED IGAs (Income Generating Activities for the community): By shopping from us, you help us create a source of steady partial income for up to ten US based small businessmen/ women and twenty six international makers/ traders/ shoppers. Most of our international makers are based out of the East Africa region. THANK YOU for this. FRUIT/ VEGETABLE FORESTS/ NEIGHBOURHOODS: Details COMING SOON (we are planting greenery because we ship across the world and want to offset our greenhouse emissions as an organization and simply for the future of the world. We only have one earth. We also want to help feed marginalized communities because we believe in a crazy thing... no one should have to die from hunger/ lack of access to nutritious food or go to bed without something nutritious to eat). HUMAN(KIND) CONNECTIONS: We now share stories from marginalized communities through our blog/ social media accounts as a way of helping nontraditional stories have a platform. A lot of what is crippling and polarizing the world is a lack of understanding. You can't understand if you haven't listened or tried to connect as human beings. Stories are how we can connect as human(kind). SOCIAL ETHICS/ CULTURAL IMMERSION: We offer classes in conjunction with libraries across America, school districts, universities etc that allow community members to attend classes that allow interaction with beads, textiles, cuisines, art forms etc from various cultures and parts of the world. This is the second part of making human(kind) connections. Upon request, we have started offering private classes to students as well. We take this time to reflect and explore societal structures/ beliefs and expand the student's zone of impact by allowing them to generate international perspectives as well as contacts. THE ENVIRONMENT: We are working on producing products by hand or with minimal electric/ water consumption to reduce waste and misuse. We are also purchasing damaged jewelry or old jewelry, cleaning and restoring the beads/ fabric and generating NEW merchandise (by hand) to reduce waste in landfills (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle / Upcycle, Rot/ Compost). We've been working on this for the last fifteen years. We have rolled out a line of gently used/ vintage merchandise with a local blogger to reduce fashion waste (MORE DETAILS COMING SOON) We've stopped printing cards or any promotional material unless absolutely necessary. If you meet us at an event and want to connect, we pull out our cellphones and connect digitally or text you links to whatever we might have discussed in regards to our organization. We might also have a code for you to scan to connect with us. We are actively (and have been, for the last fifteen years) collecting packaging from our customers and friends (even bags from other brands) and actively reusing them to ship as well package any sold merchandise. The ugly truth about one of the industries we are part of is, according to Business Insider (Morgan McFall-Johnsen, Oct 21, 2019), fashion production makes up 10% of humanity's carbon emissions, dries up water sources, and pollutes rivers and streams. What's more, 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year (That's more emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined). We might not be as cool as all the other brands that have their names on bags, but the earth needs us to care. Maybe that's what we were put on earth, at this particular time, to do... care enough. If you still have questions, get in touch. We'd love to hear from you. The information provided below allows you to connect with the many ways we are more like water and less like concrete because at the end of the day, the one thing we always receive thank yous for are the many ways we connect people to and through culture. Enjoy.

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