Shopping the day after Thanksgiving is not uncommon. But the estimated 2,000 people who passed through the Indigenous Black Friday Marketplace in Northeast Portland on Nov. 29 got an extraordinary treat: A culturally-sensitive space curated by, and created for, indigenous artists and makers.
Organized by Indigenous Come Up, recipients of a 2019 Metro Community Placemaking grant, these marketplaces provide a unique shopping experience — and a safe, decolonized space for vendors.
“Indigenous Come Up works with young adults who have survived government and tribal systems, so having welcoming spaces to vend is vital and helps us continue to connect these young adults to our local Indigenous community.”
“Our experiences as vendors and artists at random selling engagements could range from anywhere between uncomfortable to being exposed to straight out racism,” said main organizer Lluvia Merello.
The organizers were inspired to create culturally-specific events for greater Portland’s Indigenous community because, as Merello explained, artistic collaboration is a crucial part of the effort to preserve their cultures.
Indigenous Come Up organizes these marketplaces throughout the year across greater Portland. They often include entertainment. A group of Aztec performers whose drums could be heard blocks away drew many attendees at the November event. Inside, shoppers found more than 20 vendors selling a wide variety of merchandise.
This was Indigenous Come Up’s second Black Friday marketplace, and according to Merello many vendors reported record-breaking sales for their businesses. “This year, 2019, we had our best turnout ever at any of our marketplaces,” she said. “From the moment that we opened to when we closed we had the marketplace filled with customers at all times.”
Thanks to the success of their events, the organizers now have a long waiting list of vendors who would like to join future marketplaces. “When space permits we have been working through our vendor waitlist to provide as many opportunities as we can for new vendors while continuing to support our return vendors that have helped get these markets to where they are today,” said Merello.
The Metro Community Placemaking grant received by Indigenous Come Up allowed them to remove barriers that would keep many artists out of other fairs or marketplaces. “All our vendor spaces are free of charge,” said Merello. “This would not be possible without the grant, as we have to pay for space for marketplaces and we pay entertainers and staff with the grant.”
According to Merello, the organizers are particularly focused on supporting and encouraging the next generation of artists and creators. This makes hosting culturally-sensitive events even more important.
“Indigenous Come Up works with young adults who have survived government and tribal systems,” she said, “so having welcoming spaces to vend is vital and helps us continue to connect these young adults to our local Indigenous community.”
Upcoming holiday marketplace
Dec. 21, 2 to 7 p.m.
Leaven Community Center
5431 NE 20th Ave.
Portland, OR 97211
In addition to markets, Indigenous Come Up organizes cultural workshops. “Last year we had a holiday card-making event for incarcerated children,” said Merello.
“These events provide us with a community where we can grow our business and arts together. When we are with community and supporting each other, our creative energy is accelerated instead of being oppressed.”
Holiday shoppers will have another opportunity to visit an indigenous market place on Saturday, Dec. 21 from 2 to 7 p.m. at The Leaven Community Center in Portland. That event will feature free face-painting, storytelling and music. Eight more events are planned for 2020. Follow Portland Indigenous Marketplace on Facebook for more details.
Indigenous Come Up's marketplaces offer a variety of products created by local indigenous artists.
Visit the Community Placemaking grant program page for more details about the program.
Metro is accepting applications for the 2020 Community Placemaking grant cycle. Applications must be submitted by noon on Feb. 3, 2020. Visit the 2020 grants page to apply.
Metro’s investments, such as these placemaking grants, are strategically focused to help local communities create or sustain the vibrant places envisioned in the Region’s 2040 Growth Concept.
The work of the Community Placemaking grant recipients aligns with Metro's strategic plan to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion.
Read the strategic plan:
Strategic plan to advance racial equity, diversity and inclusion