I’ve gotten an awful lot of attention surrounding the N7 Holiday Line from Nike and should clarify a few points.
First off, the new N7 line is clearly not a Salish design. I would never claim it as a Salish design, and will speak with Nike soon to clarify the situation.
I remember many years ago when I first decided to print my own work I spoke in great length with Susan Point as well as Andy Peterson and many other outstanding artists who were incredibly helpful. Susan was instrumental in helping me decide to pursue strictly Salish work, which is accurate to who I am, and where I’m from. I followed her advice to do just Salish work after much discussion and a great deal of research and study, and have been grateful ever since. In fact we made some trades and she has some of my early works. The fact that I am described as a Salish artist in the N7 advertisement is unfortunate because of the implications it has. I know as well as most how it could be viewed as a setback in bringing Salish work to the outside world. I will do what I can to rectify the misunderstanding but I don’t know exactly what that looks like at the moment.
When Nike approached me about this project they were very clear and upfront about what the project was and more importantly what it wasn’t. They had some very clear guidelines they had to follow. One thing to understand is that N7 is tasked with the unrealistic expectation of representing over 566 federally recognized tribes in the US not to mention the hundreds in Canada and the hundreds more in Mexico. That doesn’t even begin to cover the millions of indigenous peoples elsewhere. So right away this is an impossible task. Nike wanted to do a general Northwest Coastal design. They didn’t want the design to represent ANY specific tribe or tribal group. As you can imagine this is an impossible task, instead Nike wanted a much broader design. My role on this project was to assist the N7 team with coming up with this broad based design.
Nike needed an artist who understood the broad based concept and who could put their ego aside and work with their existing team. Obviously I would have loved to lock myself in the studio and design the entire line myself in my own style, which happens to be Puget Sound Salish, however that wasn’t what this project was about. This project was designed to cover the entire Northwest from Alaska to Oregon, and as many of you well know, Northern Formline is what the broader world knows about the Northwest.
One of the more ironic aspects of this situation is that I have spent my entire career educating people about the difference between Salish work and the better-known Northern Formline. I’m actually excited about expanding that conversation with the exposure that N7 gets.
Thank you for your concern, I understand the confusion caused by the fact I am a Salish artist and this isn’t a Salish design. I’ll do what I can to clarify the situation. That being said, neither I nor Nike claim this is a Salish work. Hopefully in the future I will be able to work with them again and do a straight Salish design. Until then, it’s baby steps. This is the first time Nike has collaborated with an Indian artist to create a line, we are all learning from this process and will continue to improve. In the meantime I will speak with them to clarify some of the language surrounding the marketing.