Our Teachers

Kirk McLean Question:

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room. There’s a perception that the founder of NoMiNoU is a privileged white woman. What gives her the right to sell Indigenous art?

Roy Henry Vickers Answer:

We are privileged to know Indigenous art… whether we’re white or yellow or red or black.  So – I can’t see the elephant.

Kirk McLean Question:

What makes it ok for Jullianna to sell the clothes?

 

Roy Henry Vickers Answer:

I make it ok – It’s my art.

And do I care what other people think? No.

What  I care about is that people get to wear something that has great meaning. And in this case, a lot of it is from ancient yoga culture. So am I appropriating another culture by creating images in my style, that show positions of yoga?

Am I appropriating?

Well, if I am… I’m sure that those who teach yoga really appreciate this new expression of what is part of their lives.

And I’m sure that any Indigenous people who see images that are positions of yoga, once they get past the idea, what the heck are you doing Roy?  Once they get by that and they understand that yoga – the ancient discipline – is no different from the ancient dances taught, that are taught in song in potlatches over and over and over and over.

So for me, it’s all part of a big picture that we’re all part of. And it’s our coming together in that picture and sharing the love of each other. And our bond.

Kirk McLean Question:

What do say to people who claim that NoMiNoU is culturally appropriating Indigenous art?

Roy Henry Vickers Answer:

Nothing.  That sort of statement doesn’t deserve a response.

Kirk McLean Question:

Who can wear these designs?

 

Roy Henry Vickers Answer:

Anybody who likes them.  Anybody who wants them.

Kirk McLean Question:

Can Non-Indigenous people wear clothing like NoMiNoU – that has Indigenous art?

Roy Henry Vickers Answer:

That’s kind of impossible because we’re all Indigenous from somewhere. So there’s no such thing as non-Indigenous people.

To me, seeing Kirk McLean wearing one of my shirts is like a wonderful compliment – to see anyone wearing it is a wonderful compliment… I mean if someone likes something well enough to wear it – and it’s about wearable art –  and that art is a combination of Jullianna and Roy Henry Vickers – then wonderful!

That’s what it’s all about. It’s why we do it.

Kirk McLean Question:

Should NoMiNoU only use Indigenous models?

 

Roy Henry Vickers Answer:

No. We’re all Indigenous.  I come from people who prior to colonization, were inclusive.

So if you came and lived in my village for a year, and you worked with kids, old people would come to you one day and ask you.  Do you like this place? You’re gonna live here for a while?

You say yes – and they’re gonna say well, The Chief of the Eagles would like to adopt you and make you part of our community.  It’s called Making Relatives – and then you would become part of the community. So then, are you non-Indigenous? Are you are you Indigenous?  You carry a name from there, you carry a crest from there, you have family there. And that’s the way the communities were prior to colonization.

So today we’re dealing with people who are lost. And they walk on the dust and bones of their ancestors.  And they’re filled with anger to anyone, non-Indigenous.  And yet, no one’s non-Indigenous.  Their ancestors never had that concept. So they are part of internalized colonization. So their attitude is the colonizer’s attitude, not their ancestor’s attitude.

So everything that I do is done with the attitude and the teachings of the old people. And I’ve learned over time that it’s my responsibility to teach those who need to learn.