Why 'Buy Native'


To 'Stay authentic; Buy Native' is an inclusive statement. We encourage everyone to celebrate the rich Native American heritage of the Southwest and invest in these pieces of wearable art.

The Native American handmade jewelry we sell is an integral part of Native American economies, allowing for greater self-determination, and a continuation of cultural heritage. We and the artisans are so happy to have you purchase and wear a piece into which they have infused their creative spirit and took extreme care to make.

The jewelry is made to be purchased so the artisans can support themselves, their families, and their communities. When you choose to buy authentic Native American jewelry, you are meeting the definition of sustainability: helping to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It is vital that living Native American artisans be supported so we can help protect the future of this original American treasure.

As each of us move through life, we are constantly presented with choices. In ways that are both visible and invisible, our choices impact the world and everything in it. One of the most frequent ways that we modern people affect our world is through the products we buy.

As we shop, we can ask ourselves "What is my social responsibility?" Part of being able to shop in an ethical way is through education and seeing the impact of your choices. For example, after watching 'The True Cost' documentary those great deals on cheap clothing looked much less appealing! 

As children, we frequently traveled between where we grew up in Alpine, Utah and where much of the maternal side of our families live on the Navajo Nation. It was and still is very surreal to find oneself in conditions suited to a developing country while in the middle of the United States, after a short car ride of 5½ hours.

The Navajo Nation is a place of tremendous natural beauty and we love our family and our tribal members living there. There are deep spiritual and personal connections to the land and we as Diné people should be able live in our traditional homelands and prosper. However, it is very hard to prosper when day-to-day activities are focused around meeting needs that are both immediate and fundamental.

The jarring differences in areas that typically meet these fundamental needs such as basic infrastructure, weatherproof homes, availability of nutritious food, running water, paved roads, timely police or EMT assistance, and good medical care made a huge impact on our young selves and we resolved to assist our people in some way. Today, we support Native artisans as well as contributing a portion of all our proceeds towards various philanthropic efforts and charitable organizations focused on Native Americans. 

Your Kotah Bear purchase will make a difference in the lives of your fellow citizens and human beings: the Diné (Navajo) people, our Pueblo relatives, and may other tribes. Walk with us in beauty and invest in the present and future of Native American jewelry!

- OUR STORY -

Yá’át’ééh shik’éí dóó shidine’é! Shí éí Kotah yinishyé. Tábąąhá nishłį́. Bilagáana báshíshchíín. Lókaa Dineé dashicheii. Bilagáana dashinalí. Ákót’éego diné nishłį́. Hello my friends and my people! My name is Kotah. I am of the Water's Edge Clan, born for the white people's clan. The Reed people are my maternal grandfather's clan and the white people's clan is my paternal grandfather's clan. In this way, I am a Navajo man.

Yá’át’ééh, shí éí Missy yinishyé! Hashtł'ishnii nishłį́. Bilagáana báshíshchíín. Tsinaajinii dashicheii. Bilagáana dashinalí. Ákót’éego diné asdzáán nishłį́. Hello, my name is Missy! I am of the Mud Clan born for the white people's clan. The Black-Streaked-Wood People are my maternal grandfather's clan and the white people's clan is my paternal grandfather's clan. In this way, I am a Navajo woman.

We own Kotah Bear and are both enrolled members of the Diné (Navajo) tribe. We married in 2012 having met when we were twelve years old. Back then, Kotah traveled the world performing with his family's traditional Native American dance group "Star Flint" and when they were a few dancers short, Missy and her sister Emily were invited to join them for an 18 day tour of Poland.

Over a decade later, we reconnected (thanks to shideezhí Emily) and were married in the traditional Navajo Way. As newlyweds, we loved to travel. When making trips from where we live in Utah to the Navajo Nation (NM & AZ specifically) to visit family, we would have many requests to bring jewelry back. We quickly realized that supporting Native American artisans, being surrounded by beautiful items, and meeting new friends are things we are both very passionate about! We decided Kotah's childhood nickname "Kotah Bear" would be a perfect name for the new company.

The past couple years traveling, growing the business, and still working full time has been very busy, but we just feel appreciative that we can share gorgeous handcrafted items from our culture and help support the livelihood of living Native American artisans. Each piece originates from a rich, ancient heritage and can be treasured for generations to come. We hope you'll love browsing through our finds as much as we do!