Native American designers point lips not fingers

Native American designers point lips not fingers

Native American designers point lips not fingers

Updated 30 August 2013, 13:55 AEST

Four Native American designers have collaborated with a clothing company to create a line of products which celebrate traditional culture rather than stereotyping it. 

When clothing company Paul Frank held an event called "Dream Catching...a pow wow celebrating Fashion's Night Out," which included guests wearing neon headbands, feathers and war paint, the Native American community expressed critiscism for stereotyping their culture and encouraging people to "play Indian." Paul Frank's response was to right their wrongs by teaming up with four Native American designers to produce a line with celebrates culture rather than stereotypes it. 
Dustin Martin, a t-shirt designer of Navajo origin, saw it as an opportunity he couldn't give up because he felt that he had a responsibility to make sure that his people were represented in an appropriate way. He admits that he initially had his reservations about becoming involved but after some soul-searching he decided that "if we want corporations to be culturally responsible then our cultures are going to have to be corporately responsible also." 
Martin described the offending event which prompted the collaboration as a "perfect storm of no education," something he admits is not necessarily anyone's fault because "there's a whole system that has not educated them."
In speaking about his design, Martin said that he was inspired by traditional Navajo lands and wanted to include people into his work "to remind people that it's a living and breathing culture that they're talking about when they say Navajo." 
His attitude towards the collaboration has come from his own childhood; "when I was growing up I was told that it's rude to point with your fingers at anything or at anyone. If someone asks you directions or something, or asks who is this person you weren't to point at them. ..if you ask a Navajo person where is something or where is that person, they'll point with their lips not with their head." 
Martin told Heather Jarvis that when it came to Paul Frank "I pointed my lips towards them and gave them some other direction and hopefully some education." 
Presenter: Heather Jarvis
Speaker: Dustin Martin

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