Yanasi (Yaw-Naw-See | ᏯᎾᏏ) is a Cherokee word for Buffalo or Bison. I grew up in Northeastern Oklahoma and, like most people who grew up in Northeastern Oklahoma, I have Native American ancestry. Being Cherokee in Oklahoma typically means you're surrounded by history but you're rarely confronted with it, especially if your Cherokee ancestors are way up your family tree. I went to a couple powwows growing up, and the required Oklahoma History classes in High School tell you about the Trail of Tears and the 5 Civilized Tribes, but that's the extent that most people get.
When I began thinking about starting a yoyo company one of the first thoughts I had was that I wanted to work my heritage into it, and the name seemed like the best place to start. I don't know much Cherokee, and I don't look very Cherokee, but I wanted this endeavor to be a way for everyone to learn something about Native American cultures. And with that, Yanasi YoYo was born. I asked a friend and fellow Oklahoma Native artist @CR2F to design me a logo and went from there.
The main drive behind Yanasi is to design yoyos, but a major motivation is to give back to the communities that inspired it. Some of the plans involve limited drops where the profits go to specified charities, contests and giveaways to encourage community outreach, and opportunities for students or artists to contribute art or products. My dream would be connecting a local artist to a larger market where they can sell their work.
While I'd love for every yoyo to be produced in the US, the cost of production can end up putting premium US yoyos out of a lot of throwers' budgets. I'm planning on producing some runs in China, but it will be clearly delineated where a yoyo is produced. Regardless of their origin, there will still be an element of community building or charitable giving associated with it.
Having such a larger focus on community and charity demands a large amount of transparency and interaction; so if you have any questions or suggestions please reach out, I'd love to hear them!