I have been wondering about something in your lexicon, and I hope this does not come across as critical (just curious). You often use the word "tribe" to refer to your family, and I've been hearing a lot of discussion in the ethical fashion community about cultural appropriation of these types of words. I don't mean to assume that you don't have Native American heritage, but just wondering how you feel about the use of this term in that context.
It's interesting that you bring this up, because lately every time I type that word...I hesitate for exactly the reasons you mention. I've been reading An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz + reading + listening to as much as I can that will connect me with an understanding of history + human relationship. These times call for awareness + sensitivity + allyship. I want to learn + grow + take good action.
While I am not of Native American heritage, I've been drawn to the beauty of Native American symbols, art + object for as long as I can remember. A beaded necklace, a braided bracelet + soft leather moccasins were (and still are) some of my childhood treasures. We've explored Native American sites with reverent admiration + awe. We spent years living at the edge of reservations. The beauty of the craft, the reverence for nature, the recognition of the sacred, the ability to live in harmony with the earth...I have a great appreciation + admiration for all of it. I have the utmost respect for Native American heritage + the utmost sorrow for its attempted obliteration...past + present. With all sincerity, one of the very best days of 2018, for me, was the day that the first Native American women were elected into the House of Representatives...one for which I enthusiastically + proudly voted.
From my understanding, cultural appropriation involves ignoring origins and/or spiritual significance + acting like something belongs to someone (often with greater power) other than the originator. In the fashion world, it can be difficult to know if one is honoring or plundering a culture for material. (Having pieces made by people in the native culture, paying them fair wages + providing a platform for their stories might be a step in the right direction.) The discussion of cultural appropriation can be a bit sticky, because it often involves deciphering motives. I love wearing Mexican embroidery + Indian block prints. My home is filled with Native American pottery, African baskets, Chinese calligraphy + Indian prints. I like to eat Italian, Indian, Greek, Mexican, + Japanese food. I wear + display + eat things associated with these cultures not because I think they belong to me or seek to profit from them...but because I greatly appreciate their beauty + taste. I want to honor these things + their origins.
The English language is made up almost entirely of words borrowed from other languages. The word tribe comes from Old French + Latin. There are African tribes, nomadic tribes, tribes that live in the Amazon rainforest, the twelve tribes of Israel, etc. But yes, reference to tribe conjures, in some of us, a thought toward Native American tribes. I try my best to choose words that communicate my meaning effectively. The way I use the word "tribe" communicates what I think it means. I use the word "tribe", because it gives tangible, visible form to the best of what I want this group of people with whom I live to embody. We are a tight knit group of humans bound by love + devotion + respect. We exist to nurture a common flourishing. We are bound together by something stronger than blood, and I want all of that to extend beyond my girls' childhood. I want friendship + working toward common care + keeping of each other + this planet to bind us together into old age. I want tribe...not just the connotation of modern American family.
I also like using the word tribe, because it can expand to include you. It can expand to include all of us who see that we are all connected...our actions affect each other + all those whom we will never meet...all those who speak different languages + have different customs...all those who fly + gallop + swim + photosynthesize. We are all connected...we are, in this way, "tribe".
I want to be sensitive to Native Americans' desires. I live with open hands. Words are not mine to keep. I try my best to use them with care. Please let me know what you think in the comments.
Thank you for starting this discussion, friend. :)