Shop Native Featured Shop: Kinnikinnick Trading Co.

Shop Native Featured Shop: Kinnikinnick Trading Co.

As part of an ongoing initiative, we're celebrating Native American-owned businesses, whose work you can find on our Shop Native directory, which features both Native American products and products made for Natives. These products include clothing, beauty, beadwork, herbal, art, blankets, and more. With over 40 companies and products already listed, the directory is attracting visitors from around the world.  

This week, we're celebrating Kinnikinnick Trading Co.! We caught up with their founder, Edd Scorpio (a.k.a. Captain John Swallow) to learn more about what goes into their unique line of apparel, traditional medicines, rattles and more. 

Why did you start Kinnikinnick Trading Co.?

For many years, my wife and I have been involved in seasonal and, often, historical events. We’re both historians, and my wife is also an accredited archaeologist. I have also been connected to the land for most of my life, despite not having the connection to my culture. I’ve practiced many traditional healing methodologies. Some of these are for my own health and sharing with others.

A dozen or more years ago, as I began to slowly connect with my culture/heritage, the opportunity arose to represent my culture in a historical context at War of 1812 reenactments as a “Merchant.” This launched the idea and, moving forward with it, the opportunity to attend local Pow Wows as a vendor. The historical events inspired me to carry “traditional trade goods,” such as pelts, crafts, trade silver, traditional medicines and plants. This actually translated well at pow wows as few others were in that niche!

From there I started building a brand and started looking at ways to expand into indigenous-themed merchandise (shirts, hoodies, hats, mugs, etc.) and some modern takes on traditional items. One example is our 4 Grandmothers Smokeless Smudge™ (BUY HERE), which is distilled directly from the plants themselves and packaged into pocket-sized “mist” bottles.

Kinnikinnick Trading Co.
4 Grandmothers Smokeless Smudge™ Spray ($20 – 60mL)

Where does the name “Kinnikinnick” come from?

Kinnikinnick is known as a traditional tobacco-less smoking mixture of Bearberry leaf and other plants. It is an Anishinaabe word whose literal meaning is, “things that are mixed.” While I have more Lakota heritage than Anishinaabe, I also live in Dish With One Spoon territory; home to many nations whose root language is Algonkin or Ansihinaabe.

So I myself am, “things that are mixed”!

What do you most want your customers to know about your company and your products?

We make an effort to supply products that are sustainably sourced, harvested and prepared, in most cases, by indigenous people. I make all but one of the prepared medicines for Kinnikinnick myself, I pack all of the dried plants and make a number of the craft items. I also sell items on behalf of a couple of friends who are experts in their craft.

Our merch line is all print-on-demand so there’s less waste and it uses many sustainable and ethical raw materials. All of our printing and embroidery is done in North America. Even our website is hosted on servers powered by Green Energy.

What do your customers love most about your products?

At Kinnikinnick, we strive for quality in everything, whether it's a dried plant, a prepared medicine, or a t-shirt. Our customers frequently comment on this, even 10 minutes after a purchase at a pow wow!

What is your most popular product? 

Probably our traditional medicines, though our merch line is growing in popularity. We also sell a lot of hand-wrapped “lucky rabbit feet.” They’re all-natural, sustainable and they support veterans and differently-abled persons.

Anything exciting coming down the pipeline?

Kinnikinnick has been nominated for an Indigenous Entrepreneur Award and have submitted to the Pow Wow Pitch

Why do you think it's important for people to support Native-owned businesses?

We need people to support Inspired Natives, not “Native Inspired”, so we can retain and grow our culture and control our own narrative. Like any nation, we are proud of our heritage and traditions and we should be the ones deciding where and how they are shared with the world and that we belong to many sovereign nations who have always been here, with many diverse and beautiful cultures, languages and people.

Last Updated on January 18, 2023 by Paul G

One Comment “Shop Native Featured Shop: Kinnikinnick Trading Co.”

  • Avatar for Charles sr McCasl as n ffg

    Charles sr McCasl as n ffg


    Am 3/4 indigenous, mostly lakota. Wish to buy chokers for my grandchildren, and must be made by loving hands of my indigenous people. Need listing of where to buy TRULY made indigenous products, and to support the hard and appreciated work of our brothers and sisters in need.

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