Anishinaabe and Oglala Lakota jewelry maker Autumn White Eyes, a spoken word artist and multimedia storyteller, launched her online shop to create jewelry for people to feel empowered by their activism while expressing their style with bold and beautiful earrings and accessories.
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Autumn White Eyes and I’m from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (located in the settler-state of SD). My Lakota name is Wanbli Ohitika Win which means Brave Eagle Womxn. I’m now temporarily living in Lenapehoking ( the Lenape homelands in Edison, New Jersey) with my partner and our puppy, Ponyo.
What’s your tribe?
I’m Oglala Lakota and Northern Cheyenne on my father’s side and Turtle Mountain Band of Anishinaabe & Métis on my mother’s side. I’m enrolled Oglala Lakota
What do you consider yourself in the LGBTQ2S+ space?
I’m Two-Spirit Femme and Queer. In my Two-Spirit identity, I feel that I’m genderfluid, not bound by the colonial gender binary. I use they/them and she/her pronouns. As a femme person, I’m feminine and masculine outside the bounds of Euro-cis-heteropatriarchal standards.
What’s your small business called? When did you first start it?
My small business is called Indigefemme. I started it two years ago in 2018. My older sister first taught how to make decoupage earrings six years ago, and at that time it was somewhat popular on my reservation to see earrings with our ancestors in the Edward Curtis photos over floral and traditional geometric designs. I decided I wanted to also create these types of earrings but with an activist and feminist twist. I opened the shop because I was looking for a creative outlet and always found crafting and writing poetry to be a source of catharsis for myself. My small business is also used to sell my book of poetry, “Instructed by Haŋwí”, which speaks to my experiences as a Two-Spirit activist and feminist.
Where do you find your inspiration for your designs?
I wanted to create a shop that honored our activist and feminist ancestors and relatives. I started with making earrings that honored John Trudell (Dakota), Wilma Mankiller (Cherokee), Frida Kahlo, Angela Davis, Yuri Kochiyama, and Two-Spirit ancestor, We’wha (Zuni). For example, it is my hope when wearing earrings with these relatives you feel the power of poetry with John Trudell, grassroots community development movements with Wilma Mankiller, feminist art with Frida Kahlo, racial justice with Angela Davis, racial solidarity with Yuri Kochiyama, and decolonizing the gender binary with We’wha. I also wanted to create earrings and buttons with empowering statements that would affirm and celebrate activism, feminism, identity, and Indigeneity. My other earrings say phrases such as Indigenous Feminist, Decolonize, Indigenize, Resist, Queer AF, Fat Femme Fierce, Abolish ICE, Native Land, and No More Stolen Sisters. My earrings & buttons not only affirm and celebrate but also educate others on movement work surrounding Indigenous Sovereignty and Murdered and Missing Indigenous Womxn (MMIWG2S). In partnership with Sovereign Bodies Institute, I’m able to donate a small portion of every sale of my MMIWG2S design to their work, and I’m able to donate proceeds from the Abolish ICE earrings to Movimiento Cosecha, a movement for 11 million undocumented people in the US.
What makes your designs stand out?
My designs stand out because I use colorful florals often associated with femininity and contrast this effect by displaying powerful activists and activists statements in black and white over these backgrounds. The fonts I use are often associated with streetwear culture which also appeals to many people. People of all genders have bought my work.
Shop Autumn’s work on her Etsy shop.