Without a doubt, November is a time of the year I enjoy the most. December is too overwhelming and stressful, summer is nice but goes too quickly, and although spring is one of my favorite seasons, after living in the Rocky Mountains most of my life, it can be full of unpredictable weather. That’s why I tend to like November, even if it marks my impending due date for finals. While my main reason for admiring November is Thanksgiving, in recent years it has shifted. This time of year, I admire this month’s recognition of Native Americans. Currently, one of my interests includes indigenous cultures and how they exist in the modern world. Now, it seems, is a trying time for cultures amongst tense race relations, which is why I have become interested in not only respecting other cultures but seeing how fashion has empowered ethnic groups. Because of this month’s theme, I decided to do some quick research if fashion has had an impact on Native Americans. As I found, my research was anything but “quick.” Here are a few of my favorites:
I started following TPMOCS on Instagram, and have fallen in love with each style of moccasins. The company was started by founder Maria Running Fisher Jones’ ties to her cultural heritage and desire to give back to the community. Each pair of baby moccasins is made by members of the Blackfeet tribe who value art as a way to preserve their traditions and way of life. With each purchase, the company aims to employ members of this tribe and provide necessities for underprivileged children living on reservations. I don’t have the need to purchase any mini moccasins right now, but if the opportunity presents itself, I know where I’ll be looking for these little accessories.
Native Max Magazine
Another company I’ve been following on social media is Native Max Magazine. With platforms online, in print, and on TV, this magazine covers a variety of topics including art, culture, entertainment and more. Their topics always make me think about culture and traditions in a different light. From readings on their website and learning more about cultural appropriation, I decided to take down numerous craft blog posts that I thought seemed inspirational but could be sensitive to those from Native American culture. As someone who comes from a mixed background and wants to see cultures intertwine and co-mingle together, Native Max Magazine reminds me the best way to do this is through respect and admiration of other cultures, not adoption.
Upon entering B. Yellowtail’s site, my eyes were immediately drawn to the colorful patterns from Native American designs. I was impressed to learn that all of these designs are handmade, an extra bonus that sparked my interests in authentically handmade products. Knowing that the designer, Bethany Yellowtail, is Apsaalooke (Crow) & Tsetsehestahese & So’taeo’o (Northern Cheyenne) impressed me even more as it gave the designs a meaning and a voice. Just watch the company’s video to see what I mean:
As I continue to uncover more Native American fashion, there are more resources beyond these, but this beginning is one I will continue to journey on. I’ve often wondered what role Native Americans have in this world, and after finding these designers, I’m left with one thing: hope.
Do you know of other Native American fashion designers? How do you think we can preserve indigenous cultures in the modern world?