Sundogs: A Native Touch

After growing up in a small town your entire life, you begin to appreciate certain things when you have to move away to a bigger city. You start to miss the sense of community and that safety net you have by knowing that if you fall, there will be people there to help you up.

 

Imagine walking around that very same town and you come across a store that you’ve never seen before, only to realize that they have been open for more than 7 years! 

 

Apparently it wasn’t as small as you had thought...

 

This is exactly how I feel after spending the last 5 years away at college, and quite frankly, I miss that feeling and that is why this post was close to my heart.Biased? Probably, but who doesn’t love a success story? I certainly do...

 

This week's business highlight is Sundogs, A Native Touch  located in Havre Montana, right on the Hi-Line. The owner, Margaret Standing Bear, opened the first and only retail store dedicated to Native American merchandise in the area. According to their website, they were created

 

“to embrace the heritage, demonstrate respect and appreciate all aspects of the Native American culture.”

 

This amazing store has everything you need from culinary books written by Indigenous people bringing back traditional foods with a modern twist, beaded jewelry and accessories, and my personal favorite... organic skin care made by traditional plants that indigenous people have historically used. 

 

a native touch

 

When you stop by this shop, not only are you supporting natives but you are also supporting local businesses in that area.

 

You are providing a source of income for these families, you are providing an income opportunity to an artist, you are boosting the economy of small towns & local communities.Although these businesses are small compared to many businesses in the bigger cities, this town depends on shops like this.

 

Sundogs has faced its issues operating in this small town. Some of them include regulations that deter them from proper advertising within the building in which they are operating. Like many small towns, they are also faced with the big challenge of reaching a wider audience of customers.

 

By sharing the works of amazing artists, we are bringing diversity to the Hi-Line and this store shows you what our culture is truly about.In an interview for the Havre Daily News in 2012,  Standing Bear said...   

 

"I've found that the Native persona is interesting to non-Native people and Sundogs caters to those seeking original and unique Native made pieces,"

 she added. "Sundogs' inventory carries newly created and crafted items meant to be proudly worn or gifted, not put in a museum or as a side show.”
 

This is important because these kinds of businesses will promote a positive and contemporary image of Native Americans today.

 

There is a serious lack of representation of Native American culture, especially in modern/contemporary aspects that the average American is not exposed to.

 

In another article posted by the Women Media Center, respondents from a series of surveys conducted on the streets, online, with business owners, philanthropists, Congress, and judges etc.. found that two-thirds of them said they don’t know a single Native American person.They also found that only 13 percent of state’s history curriculum standards about Native Americans cover events after the year 1900.

 

It is no wonder, that whenever I introduce myself as a Nehiyaw (Cree/Indigenous person) I am always confronted with the same thing “you guys still exist? Do you guys still live in teepees?”

 

You would think that after being away from the rez since graduating high school, I would’ve lost that beautiful touch of rezziness, but nope, it is just manifesting into a more refined rezziness.  

 

Now, and with the emergence of Native artists, I prefer, more than I ever have, to shop at local businesses and to truly appreciate where I come from.  


Sundogs: A Native Touch has their own website where you can see what other products they offer at http://www.406sundogs.com/ or you can also find them on Facebook for updates.

 

Sundogs with address

 

If you are interested in entrepreneurship please let us know! You can reach out to the AMRII team by sending an email to karl.unterschuetz@umontana.edu

or,

karlee.snell@mso.umt.edu. We will be happy to talk to you about making your business idea come to life!

 

I will be posting every other week about the Native business world, all the way from the successes to the failures of being an entrepreneur.

See you next month, over and out, A Cree Girl :)