Perspectives

In the Native Way, (pdf) by Tom Goldtooth, (Dine’ and Mdewakanton Dakota) is the national director of the Indigenous Environmental Network and has been a leader in Native social, economic, and environmental justice issues for over 30 years.

"Our elders talk about the spiritual battle that’s been going on for a long time. Industrialization has always wanted to control the land, control the people. That’s going on today. I believe that globalization is part of that. Globalization places no value in people, no value in religious and spiritual principles, no value in the protection of the commons. Spiritual values tie us to the importance of protecting the Mother Earth, the plants, all animate and inanimate things. When we lose that understanding, industry, development, and globalization can do what they want to do, because there are no values behind their structures. Globalization has created a system of corporate ownership above the importance of plants, living things, and humans."

 

Ethics of Materials, (pdf )by Keith Lewis, Artist, Professor of Art, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, Washington

"We have a responsibility to try to make a difference, if only by a gesture. Gestures turn insignificance into power. They change the worthless to the precious. This is important because we make precious things. As artists, we have a feebler excuse than most for avoiding important gestures because what we do depends on understanding, deep down, the meanings, implications and truths of what we make. We must understand not only what we intend our work to mean, but what baggage and burdens our work takes on because of the context of our world."

Conservationists by Nature, (pdf) by Scott Landis, woodworker and author

"Woodworkers are, by vocation and inclination, conservationists. According to Webster, the
creation of fine furniture can be a conservative exercise, as it represents the “wise utilization of a
natural product so as to prevent waste and insure future use of resources that have been depleted.”
But as designers and makers of wooden objects, our artifice relies on the harvest of living
organisms for the fulfillment of our purpose. The wood we buy determines which trees get cut and,
sometimes, which ones get planted. Our decisions about materials influence forests, habits and
indigenous people far from our own homes."

 

The Value of Ethical Gold (pdf) by Payal Sampat, Director of International Programs at EARTHWORKS.

Presentation made at the Society of North American Goldsmiths Conference, in 2005, as part of a panel organized by Susan Kingsley and Christina Miller, The Price of Gold.

"I feel very humbled standing here today talking to a group of artists and crafts people about something that iscentral to your art, your work and your lives. In many ways it’s something that is central to my life as well, and I’mtalking about gold.

I was born, raised and have spent most of my life in India, in Bombay, India. You may know India as one of the world’s poorest nations but perhaps you didn’t know that India is, in fact, the world’s number one consumer of gold jewelry. My name, Payal, actually is the word in Hindi for piece of jewelry, it’s an anklet that’s worn around the ankles of many women, dancers. I was gifted handcrafted gold jewelry at birth and at other milestones in my life. When I got married my mother handed these down to me along with heirloom jewelry that belonged to my great-grandmother and her mother before her. Those beautiful pieces of handmade jewelry are some of my most treasured possessions. I have the utmost respect for the craftsmanship, artistry and hard work that went into creating that jewelry.

In the same way, I believe that we, as consumers and makers of jewelry, need to be conscious into what went into mining the gold that we buy or sell. Today consumers and metalsmiths have a real opportunity to ensure that the gold we’re buying and selling was produced ethically, that it was mined in a way that did not hurt communities, workers or the environment. In the same way that SNAG members have set themselves apart from the mast produced jewelry market, you have the opportunity to distinguish yourselves as leaders in the ethical sourcing of gold."