Eighth Generation is a Native-owned and operated company and was founded in 2008 when Louie Gong (Nooksack) - an artist, activist and educator widely known for merging traditional Coast Salish art with influences from his urban environment to make strong statements about identity, started customizing shoes in his living room. Louie’s trend-setting aesthetic has been featured at the Smithsonian's NMAI, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the cover of Native People's Magazine. The store is located in the "Atrium", which is just off of 1st Ave and is open 7 days a week from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Seattle's iconic Pikes Place Market in downtown Seattle.
Currently, Eighth Generation is the first Native-owned company to ever produce wool blankets with a flagship retail store in Seattle's iconic Pike Place Market and is a proud participant in the global economy, with the mission of creating opportunities for community-based cultural artists who, like Louie a short 10 years ago, struggled to meet demands for handmade cultural art.
‘The Inspired Natives Project’, launched by Louie Gong in May 2014, is both a business initiative and an educational initiative. By collaborating with select arts entrepreneurs to manufacture products under the Eighth Generation brand, they hope to expand regional appeal of the Eighth Generation, while simultaneously increasing the capacity of the arts entrepreneurs and educating the public about the tangible costs of cultural appropriation. 100% of the profits the 8th Generation makes on the various artwork, goes back to the original artists he collaborates with.
He believes each "Native-inspired" product represents not only a missed opportunity for talented Native artists to build knowledge through collaboration, it also presents a tangible barrier to Native arts entrepreneurs who must compete for a spot on shelves already dominated by non-Native companies producing product featuring appropriated art. The Inspired Natives Grant is a project-based grant for emerging Native artists who are pushing boundaries in the world of arts and arts entrepreneurship. Their goal is to assist emerging artists of all mediums in developing business infrastructure (e-commerce, branding, equipment, and product development) to maximize their potential for success in the mainstream marketplace. The grant is administered in partnership with The Evergreen State College Longhouse and awarded annually starting in 2017.