FARGO — Indigenous business owners will gather Saturday afternoon for the first-ever “Trading at the Red River” event — showcasing Native American products to the community and helping reinvigorate a traditional trading route along the Red River.
About 30 vendors, including an insurance agent, master barber, saddle-maker, and massage therapist, as well as tattoo artists and jewelry makers, have signed up for the event at the Fargo Civic Center, according to Chalsey Snyder, engagement coordinator at the Minnesota Indigenous Business Alliance and a member of MHA Nation.
“It’s about showcasing what indigenous business looks like for the Fargo-Moorhead area,” said Snyder, who has been planning the event since March. “We are inviting everybody regardless of race. This isn’t just a Native event; this is a community event.”
Holly Doll, of Standing Rock, will have a booth dedicated to Native Artists United, a Native American artist cooperative in North Dakota that started at the end of last year. The group now has 10 members who range from painters and jewelry makers to seamstresses. Doll said the group will likely sell beaded jewelry, phone grips and key chains as well as ribbon skirts on Saturday. Plus, attendees can sign up to join the group.
"Having a marketplace strictly for indigenous artisans is really important,” Doll said. “It shows visibility for the Native community.”
Sixteen-year-old Bazil Stonefish will be selling his artwork for this first time Saturday, said his mother, Audra Stonefish. Bazil began drawing as a form of therapy in the last year after struggling with his mental health. He’s donating some of the proceeds to the YWCA in order to help other kids struggling with their mental health. The rest of the money he’ll put toward mastering his craft in art classes.
“He’s really nervous going into the whole thing,” Audra said, adding that the hope is his artwork sells itself.
Jamie Holding Eagle, an MHA member, will be selling her bead and quill work, such as earrings, barrettes, bracelets and ID holders at the event. She learned the skill from her mom growing up and picked it back up in the last few years as a hobby. Bead work, she said, is something you “can’t really do with a machine.”
“Native people do all kinds of things with traditional materials,” she said. “I think it’s good to see what people are putting together.”
Her daughter, she said, will be doing face painting for kids who attend the event.
"There’s a lot of assumptions about what the Native population is and who they are and what they are,” Snyder said. “This is to help people who may not have had the opportunity to meet the community members who are Native to see what they’re doing.”