May 17th, 2015 Last Updated on: May 17th, 2015
You might have seen a contest recently held by fancy dancer George Abeyta where he asked pow wow dancers to post their best “Cutting a rug” video. The person with the fanciest footwork had the chance to win an American Dakota rug.
American Dakota is a small rug manufacturer based in Georgia that specializes in designs that would look perfect in a rustic mountain cabin, lodge or maybe even your home!
Founder Mark Ford grew up in a Northwest Georgia textile town known as the Carpet Capital of the World. So it was with this unique upbringing that he started designing rugs at an early age.
American Dakota rugs are also known for their nod to Native American designs, working closely with Native artists to get the details just right. Mark Ford is not Native himself, so we asked how did he get involved with the Native community?
“Even though I am a non-native I have a unique perspective on the pow wow community since I have illustrated “how-to” articles for Whispering Wind magazine since 1992. This publication is sought after for its in-depth articles on not only historical Native American clothing but also how to build regalia that is currently trending on the pow wow circuit. In college I majored in Art and minored in Native American Studies. I also spent two Summers on the Blackfeet Reservation and worked in the Curator's office in Yellowstone.”
So Mark naturally paired his passion for textiles and his interest in Native American art with his western and rustic lifestyle to start American Dakota rugs.
Now as we know there is a fine line when it comes to art and appropriation. American Dakota makes sure they seek out relationships with Native artists that are being a positive force in their community and are creating amazing art that would translate well into a rug design. Partnering with all artists means they split the profits 50/50. That has been one of their main goals since the beginning: to create a platform for Native artists to show their work.
Currently they sell rugs based on Northwest Coast artist Rande Cook's (K'alapa) Kwakwaka'wakw mask and drum designs. And coming soon will be new rugs designed by artist Randy L. Barton (Diné). They just did a first run on Barton's design and are excited the rug will be debuting at the Santa Fe Indian Market. Since they use dyes that are not common in machine made rugs they are able to achieve colors like periwinkle, salmon and turquoise which can be very common in Native art.
And it's not just individual artists they are looking out for, but their local Native community as well.
“We look for opportunities to champion Native causes such as our New Echota rug Collection. These designs were inspired by our trips to the Cherokee Capital in our home town. They make a percentage of every sale and we send them a check each month and we are glad to do it because their funding has been cut so deep. At the Cherokee Capital site in Calhoun, GA there is a complete historic town with museum and grounds that we believe is so important to preserve.”
Their work with the Native community has also caught the eye of those on the pow wow circuit. They recently donated a rug to dancer Jocy Bird for one of her Specials. They love these contests and are humbled that some dancers are buying rugs with their own money for prizes in pow wow Specials. They do donate rugs for giveaways and they hope to do more in the future!
If anyone is interested in purchasing an American Dakota rug you can visit any of their authorized resellers. Cobalt Creek Rugs actually offers free shipping and you can find them at www.cobaltcreekrugs.com or send an email to [email protected]
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