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  • Writer's pictureShelly Peterson

Heart Berry - Contemporary Ojibwe Design by Inspired Natives, NOT Native Inspired

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Sarah Agaton Howes is an Anishinaabe artist, teacher, community organizer, author, and keynote speaker from the Fond du Lac Reservation in Cloquet, Minnesota. She is known for her handmade regalia, designs that have inspired stained glass art installations in light rail stations and tribal colleges, and moccasins featuring her original Ojibwe floral designs. Sarah owns and operates her own business, Heart Berry. As a teacher of her culture, she shares her knowledge by teaching classes and video tutorials on beadworking. She also has authored books such as Grandmother’s Gift Nookomis Obagijigan, a visual and textual tutorial on Ojibwe moccasin making, patterns, and stories.

Her business features amazingly beautiful and unique apparel, blankets, and gifts in her online store, where she hand designs and screen prints in Duluth, MN, and Seattle, WA. We met with Sarah and her co-worker Cassandra who were busy compiling shipments in their Cloquet, MN warehouse. The interview was astounding and inspiring. Sarah is passionately motivated to revitalize her culture by helping native artists become businesspeople. She has found that across the country, people are hungry for native art, and therefore she is inspired to teach people how to create this native art. She found her calling in business after meeting Louie Gong of Eight Generation and his pacific northwest cultural style of Native American art. He merged culture and business through community-invested work. He inspired her to build a website, launch social media, and transfer pencil to digital art to be designed into contemporary products. Through her journey, she has found that businesses in the country have had a tendency to steal from natives when that art should be from native artists.

Sarah’s business started at her kitchen table in Cloquet, MN, then spread quickly to her bedroom, shed, a trailer in her yard, and now into a warehouse in Cloquet. Her artwork designs speak to the culture of the Fond du Lac Reservation’s culture of sugarbush, the cycles of seasons in nature, and the floral designs of spring and summer. Art is a reminder of culture. Sarah Agaton Howes is a registered woman and minority-owned business in Minnesota and an inspired native.

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