If you have been to the Fashion Outlets in Niagara Falls lately, you may have noticed a new addition. Evelyn George-Shongo, owner says the mall has been wonderful about having this space because they would love to see community involved in coming to this space. They have been very enthusiastic about what is going to be going on here. At Indigenous Attractions you can find handmade clothing, beautiful bead work, herbs and a number of other specialty goods. According to owners Evelyn and David George-Shongo, at the heart of their business is the opportunity to learn. Evelyn says they feel like it is a wonderful experience for everyone. David has a degree in Anthropology with many years of experience working in museums. Evelyn organizes cultural events. This husband and wife team say this project is definitely a combination of their strengths and passions.
Evelyn George-Shongo says you learn a lot more about people through experiences and sharing and being together. She goes on to say a lot of the games they have are from a lot of different cultures so that way you can see what is similar and appreciate those similarities and also learn about the differences and be open to those differences.
Planning for this cultural space and gift shop started in 2019. They wanted to have a store where they could sell products to showcase the handiwork of native cultures all over the world with efforts to support fair trade. The second phase will be to open an educational space where families, schools and even businesses could learn about Native American culture through games and storytelling. But then, in early 2020, Evelyn got a phone call from the mall saying they think they are going to have to shut down soon. It was a huge setback. Almost a year would go be before David and Evelyn would be able to begin again. The store opened in January 2021 and the educational space opened just this May. Emily Lampa and her family visited during their soft opening. Through a mix of exhibits, games, and storytelling they learned about the significance of animals to Native American culture and how games, even sports were often used to settle disputes. The games have you interacting not just with the host but the people you came with. Evelyn says they plan to change the games and exhibits regularly.
To take part in the experience you have to stop in the store first to buy tickets. This helps them adhere to pandemic restrictions. They are also offering the cultural space for parties, book signings, art exhibits and even corporate team building events.