After land purchase, Snoqualmie Tribe acquires Seattle-based native arts business | KNKX

After land purchase, Snoqualmie Tribe acquires Seattle-based native arts business

Nov 25, 2019

The Snoqualmie Tribe has purchased Eighth Generation, a well-known native arts retailer with a flagship store in Seattle's Pike Place Market.

This deal comes on the heels of another major acquisition for the Snoqualmie. Earlier this month, the tribe purchased the Salish Lodge and Spa along with land surrounding Snoqualmie Falls.

In addition to economic benefit, tribal leaders say these purchases are in line with the tribe's values. The acquisition around the falls seeks to maintain Snoqualmie ancestral land, while the purchase of Eighth Generation promotes native culture more broadly.

"A lot of times people make the economic investment, but they leave out the cultural investment," said Christopher Castleberry, treasurer on the Snoqualmie Tribal Council. "Whenever you have those two intersect, that's where you can see a very healthy business for tribal community."

The parties did not disclose the financial details of this latest deal.

Eighth Generation founder Louie Gong speaks outside his flagship store in Seattle's Pike Place Market while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee looks on.
Credit Simone Alicea / KNKX

Eighth Generation was founded by Nooksack artist and activist Louie Gong. He began by drawing on shoes more than a decade ago, later gaining notice for producing wool blankets. Eighth Generation moved into its Pike Place Market location in 2016.

Gong will stay on as CEO of the company. He says backing from the Snoqualmie will allow the brand to grow more quickly. 

"Now, all of a sudden, when I have a vision gelling in my mind of what Eighth Generation can do next, we can move forward in that direction right away," Gong said.

One goal is to expand local manufacturing of wool textiles, Gong said. 

In conjunction with the tribe's announcement, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also declared this week "Native Arts Week." Inslee made the declaration Monday at a press conference in front of the Eighth Generation store. 

Gong called the governor's visit "a strong indication of the kind of doors that will open because of our connection to the tribe."