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Keepers of Indigenous Tradition

Unlike most Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, many Native American tribes located in the Southwest have retained their ancestral homelands and their sovereign governance through the ages. This has enabled their traditional ways and art forms to not only survive, but also to continue evolving. To understand how this came to pass, our writers peek into the region’s long and colorful history.

BY ROSEMARY DIAZ and DANIEL GIBSON

When Indigenous Women Win

In a small, indigenous Mexican community in the mountains of Michoacán, a band of determined women led the overthrow of a criminal cartel. Their victory gave the town a new sense of purpose by reviving its traditional livelihood, its capacity for self-government, and its communal spirit.

Story and photography by ANDREW SULLIVAN

Italy’s Last Maker of Traditional Wooden Hat Blocks

An homage, in film, to a third-generation Italian artisan who is the last maker of the traditional, handcarved wooden shapes used as hat blocks.

Story and Film by LUISA GROSSO

The Kayak’s Cultural Journey

For millennia, indigenous peoples across the world have built and used wooden skin boats to fish and hunt, for sport and travel, even for warfare. Skin kayaks are the unique product of Arctic peoples, but nonindigenous admirers of the craft are making them, too. Does that matter?

By SIMON MORRIS

The Norwegian Sweater Detective

In southern Norway, in a small workshop at the bottom of a verdant, postcard-perfect valley, Annemor Sundbø gathers remnants, paintings, and authentic reproductions of traditional Norwegian sweaters. Her collections—along with her seven books on the subject—provide a window into the myths and meaning that were long woven into this legendary Nordic craft. Now she’s trying to bring back the sheep that grew Viking Norway’s unusually hardy wool.

Story by SARAH POLLOCK
Photography by MIKKEL AALAND

Italy’s Ancient Textile-Printing Mangle

Only a handful of artisans still practice the centuries-old craft of rust printing on fabric. Of those who do, even fewer use the traditional stone mangle, or press, on handwoven, raw hemp fabric, yielding textiles that can last for centuries. The Marchi family printworks, in Italy’s Romagna region, may well be the only place left in the world that still produces authentic, rust-printed textiles that are fully handmade.

Story and Film by LUISA GROSSO

Led by the Nose

If you’re tired of smelling like everyone else, you can say ‘no’ to the big perfume houses, and their overpriced, generic scents. In a growing number of kitchen labs and small shops around the globe, small-scale perfume artists are bottling a world of intoxicating new scents. Some seem to give new meaning to the concept of time travel.

By BARBARA TANNENBAUM

Italy’s Book Doctor

In the city of Bologna, home to the world’s oldest university (as well as some of Italy’s finest cuisine), Pietro Livi has developed an unusual machine shop. Part artisanal and part high-tech, his operation is a kind of Renaissance workshop, built to restore damaged ancient texts to their former glory. And then came Venice’s historic floods of 2019.

By LUISA GROSSO

The Wootz Hunter

Sometime in the 1800s, long after the Persians had beaten back the Crusaders, the technique for making the mighty swords that won those battles was mysteriously lost. In the centuries that followed, Europe’s best metallurgists repeatedly tried to revive this craft, with no luck. Then, in the 1980s, a lone horseshoer in Florida named Al Pendray started tinkering with steel recipes. A Craftsmanship mini-documentary

By TODD OPPENHEIMER

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