Indigenous online marketplace to teach world about cultural appropriation

By Jessica Tyson
Pounamu from the award-winning artists at Rākai Jade, Rotorua / Source - Rawhitiroa Photography, 5000 TRIBES Facebook

The world’s first global indigenous online marketplace, 5000 Tribes, has been launched and the owners are hoping the platform will be able to teach the world about cultural misappropriation.

Social enterprise 5000 Tribes is dedicated to assisting Māori, Pasifika and indigenous businesses, professionals, artists and creatives across the globe to make online trading easier, eliminating common barriers to e-commerce.

Co-founder Moana Ellis, of Uenuku, Kahungunu and Tūwharetoa, says as a community 5000 Tribes hopes to eliminate cultural misappropriation.

“We share traditions and culture. We are more aware than anyone else and sensitive to cultural appropriation, so we’ll be working towards that very carefully.”

Ellis says 5000 Tribes has guidelines about what constitutes cultural appropriation, which is when members of a dominant culture appropriate from disadvantaged minority cultures.

Stopping cultural thievery

“It’s a community that’s indigenous businesses and shoppers from around the world. There’s the opportunity through discussion and social platforms to help improve understanding more widely around cultural appropriation and, ultimately, I think only education and a change of mindset and understanding will stop cultural thievery.”

Ellis also says 5000 Tribes has an oversight programme "which is a trust mark or a seal of authenticity to show that products are indigenous-made".

Another criterion is that businesses can only join if their owners are indigenous. Ellis says 5000 Tribes began on-boarding businesses last week.

“The response has been overwhelming. It’s a global market place so the potential is literally hundreds.”

Their initial focus has been close to home focusing on Māori, Pasifika and any other indigenous cultures in Oceania.  

5000 Tribes will officially open at the end of the month.