karuk

It kind of makes me angry when people comment on posts about why it is wrong to appropriate Native American culture saying “Well I have Native blood and I don’t care about that stuff”…well, okay? You obviously don’t hold that part of yourself very closely because Natives that do take their culture seriously generally give a lot of fucks when they see Non-Natives wearing cheap knockoffs of things from their culture.

This triple strand long necklace is handcrafted using the traditional materials of the Northern California Indians. The long white shell is dentalium, a species found in the Pacific Ocean. Many tribes used dentalium shells as a form of currency or money. The Karuk name for these shells is Ira-ish-pook (Indian money), and they were a visible sign of the material wealth of the owner. These shells were strung and worn during ceremonial gatherings. Native people also continue to use dentalium in their regalia.

All of the natural world from the earthworm to the mammals, trees, specific geological formations (certain granite outcroppings, for example), sacred sites, mountains, creeks, the sun, the moon,even the mosquito, were once Ikxareeyav [spirit deity] People. … Wherever our ancestors looked or walked in the Karuk world, there was an Ikxareeyav associated with the place…

It is easy to overlook the sacredness of land nowadays, but it’s as foolish today as it would have been 150 years ago. It’s encouraging to know that our Ikxareeyavs rarely recede into oblivion. After all, are there not yet rattlesnakes? Or frogs, eels, mountains, creeks, trees, and sacred ceremonies? If you look closely enough you’ll see they are all Ikxareeyavs.

—  Julian Lang, Karuk linguist and artist, from Ararapikva, quoted in Cathedrals of the Spirit by T. C. McLuhan.