Customer feature: Mitchell Museum of the American Indian

Wide angle photo ot the Mitchell Museum gift shop; various shelves are shown with things like jewelry, books, art and shirts
The Mitchell Museum Gift Shop boasts a diverse array of products, ranging from books by Native authors and gourmet foods to toys, soaps, and clothing

In the heart of Evanston, Illinois, nestled within the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, lies a hidden gem – the Mitchell Museum Gift Shop. The shop stands as a beacon of empowerment and resilience, showcasing the talents of Indigenous entrepreneurs and artists from across the U.S.

The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, a nonprofit institution, was founded in 1977 with the goal to preserve and promote the rich tapestry of Indigenous cultures. From its inception, the museum’s founders, John and Betty Mitchell, envisioned a space not only for exhibitions but also for fostering economic empowerment within Indigenous communities.

Large bookshelf with a variety of children's and adult books

The gift shop, an integral part of the museum’s identity, was established with this vision in mind. Over the years, it has evolved to reflect a commitment to authenticity and sustainability. In 2021, the shop pledged to exclusively source products directly from Native artisans and entrepreneurs. The museum will soon undergo a rebranding that will include a new name and logo that reflects the focus of the Great Lakes area.

Step inside the Mitchell Museum Gift Shop, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a vibrant tapestry of Native American craftsmanship. The shop boasts a diverse array of products, ranging from books by Native authors and gourmet foods to toys, soaps, and clothing. Every purchase made here is a direct investment in the livelihoods of Indigenous entrepreneurs and community members, contributing to the preservation and revitalization of their cultural heritage.

At the core of the Mitchell Museum Gift Shop’s mission is a commitment to amplifying Indigenous voices and experiences. Through partnerships with Native-owned organizations like SweetGrass Trading Company, the shop not only offers high-quality products but also fosters meaningful connections between consumers and Indigenous communities.

“We want our visitors and customers to experience the diverse talents and contributions of Native artists, authors, and entrepreneurs we buy from,” Executive Director Kim Vigue said. “As a Native organization, we also want to do all we can to support and expand the customer base of Native artists and businesses.”

Vigue said the herbal loose-leaf teas from Tribal Tea Co. (a sister company of SweetGrass Trading Co.) are among the most popular items in the gift shop.

Looking ahead, the shop’s goals remain steadfast: to honor the past, empower the present, and inspire the future. With each passing day, it continues to serve as a beacon of hope and possibility, bridging the gap between tradition and modernity, and weaving a brighter, more inclusive future for all.

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