Mary Big Bull-Lewis is on a mission to showcase and preserve Native American art, taking a modern spin. Wenatchi Wear, a unique brand based in the Wenatchee Valley owned by husband-and-wife team Mary Big Bull-Lewis and Rob Lewis, creates authentic threads designed with the goal of creating awareness and empowering Indigenous Peoples.
Taking a Modern Spin on Native American Art:
Big Bull-Lewis designs Wenatchi Wear’s shirts, hats, sweatshirts, shorts and more, beginning with original hand sketches produced on P'Squosa homelands. Lewis’s goal is diversity, education and respect – through clothing.
“Here in Wenatchee, there’s not much recognition or acknowledgement of Native American people. It’s Important to be present on our homelands and steer consumers away from appropriated art,” said Mary Big Bull-Lewis. “Just because it doesn’t exist here, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t.”
Collaborations with Indigenous Business Owners:
Wenatchi Wear not only creates their own designs but also opens up opportunities for other Native-owned businesses to showcase their products in the brick-and-mortar shop at 600 S Mission St. From coffee and tea to soaps, lotions, books, jewelry, and more, Wenatchi Wear proudly carries a diverse range of items. They work with indigenous artists and artisans from different regions, such as Native Ground Coffee from Arizona, Sequoia Soaps by an Indigenous woman in Canada, and local beadwork from talented individuals in Omak and Quincy.
Indigenous Roots and Reparation Foundation and R Digital Design:
Beyond their product offerings through Wenatchi Wear, Big Bull-Lewis has also organized a land back non-profit organization called Indigenous Roots and Reparation Foundation, an initiative previously unseen in the region. It aims to provide a space on ancestral homelands for members of all tribes to practice cultural traditions, ceremony, and fellowship. Individuals can donate directly to the nonprofit, and Wenatchi Wear occasionally launches fundraisers where it will donate a percentage of sales.
Mary Big Bull-Lewis and Rob Lewis also own R Digital Design, creating engaging vehicle graphics, logos and more, and just celebrated their 10-year anniversary of the business.
Future Plans and Commitments:
Wenatchi Wear just celebrated its 4-year anniversary in April 2023. Looking forward to more growth, Big Bull-Lewis is hiring additional team members for both Wenatchi Wear and Indigenous Roots and Reparation Foundation. They’ll be hosting language classes, open to everyone, to practice speaking the Wenatchi language, also known as Interior Salish.
You can also find Wenatchi Wear at some exciting upcoming events, including Wenatchee Pride on June 3, the Pateros salmon bake on June 24, and the Sea Fair Pow Wow in Ballard, WA at the Day Break Indian Star Center. Later in the year, in November, the Indigenous Roots and Reparation Foundation will be hosting their 2nd annual Huckleberry Camp and 3rd annual Indian Hemp Gathering.
Wenatchi Wear stands as a beacon of cultural preservation, education, and representation in the Wenatchee Valley, and Big Bull-Lewis’s dedication to preserving their heritage and sharing it with the world serves as an inspiration to embrace and respect the cultural contributions of Indigenous Peoples everywhere.
To learn more about Wenatchi Wear and their initiatives, visit their website at https://www.wenatchiwear.com/.