Jarune Uwujaren explains that there needs to be some element of mutual understanding, equality, and respect for it to be a true exchange.
Stunning Images Show How Native American Fashion Looks Without Cultural Appropriation
It’s bigger than fashion.
That’s the first thing to know about Bethany Yellowtail’s work, a vibrant, elegant melding of classic style and the staples of her Native upbringing. Elk teeth line the sleeves of one gown, drawn with intricate floral beadwork, that drapes, glistening black, on the body of Jade Willoughby, an Ojibwe model from the Whitesands First Nation in Northern Ontario, Canada.
All of Yellowtail’s collaborators are indigenous: Thosh Collins, the photographer, is Onk Akimel O’Odham, Wah-Zah-Zi and Haudenosaunee. Martin Sensmeier, another model, is Tlingit, Koyukon and Athabascan. Promotional video director and poet Tazbah Rose Chavez, is Nüümü and Diné.
And all have converged behind Yellowtail’s vision, a fashion collection that bears the unmistakable mark of Native American influence and history, but with a twist — it’s actually made by a Native American.
This is rarer than one might assume. Indigenous designers are scarce in this space, and for most of its existence, the mainstream fashion industry’s relationship with Native peoples has been one of appropriation and — put bluntly — theft.
Today, this trend is apparent every time Pharrell Williams graces the cover of Elle magazine in a warbonnet or Heidi Klum arranges a Project Runway fashion shoot starring white models in face paint, feathers, headdresses and animal pelts.
“My brother is a chief, and those warbonnets are how we honor him,” Yellowtail told Mic in an interview. “You don’t just run around and parade in it.” READ MORE
November is Native American Heritage Month…