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Creative Nations in collaboration with the Dairy Arts Center Present
Sing Our Rivers Red May - July 2021 The Dairy Arts Center
2590 Walnut Street - Boulder, CO 80302 An exhibition that aims to bring awareness to the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and colonial gender-based violence in the United States and Canada. For further information visit - creativenations.art/may-2021-events/
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Welcome to our List of Content, everything that we have in every issue.
LIST OF CONTENT
1. Fashion Full Circle: Scott Wabano Growing up on a rural reserve, he struggled with his identity and was bullied; flipping through pages of fashion magazines was the only form of escapism. Now, Cree youth Scott Wabano is taking on the fashion industry as a model, fashion stylist, and fashion designer while gracing the cover of the first Native fashion magazine, Native Max.
MEET THE YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHER BEHIND THE COVER SHOOT
Bliss Thompson is an Ojibwe photographer from Sheguiandah First Nation and is now living in Tkaronto. She currently works with Indigenous youth and in the film industry assisting the iNstitute department at imagineNATIVE. Bliss hopes to work with as many Indigenous people and brands as she can, to share with the world how beautiful her culture and people really are.
REGULARS THE EDGE
Native Youth on Culture, Community & Couture
Youth Model Hannah Geauvreau-Turner
Behind Ripple Effects of Change is Isabella Cornell
Indigenous Youth in Business: Kamia Begay and Jaden “Jojo” Kylie Ramon
Sydney Peyketewa: Relating Messages of Pride Through Pageants
The Martin Sisters Make Traditional Music with a Modern Twist
Meet Diné Youth Violinist Kylie Jim, Indian Country’s Phenomenal Violin Prodigy
Welcome to the Future Issue, focusing on the next generation of Native American and First Nations youth who are making their voices heard and succeeding with their talents while encouraging other youth to make positive changes within their own communities. We’re so glad to present the incredible Indigenous youth and their stories of inspiration and resiliency. On the cover is Scott Wabano, who came full circle in his fashion journey. From flipping through pages of fashion magazines as the only form of escapism to taking on the fashion industry as a model, fashion stylist, and fashion designer, Cree youth Scott Wabano now graces the cover of the first Native fashion magazine, Native Max. Scott shares his fashion career journey with us, what inspired him to pursue fashion, and how he presents his culture and fashion. We also share a bit of the youth photographer behind Scott’s cover photoshoot: Bliss Thompson. We also feature seven Native youth who are all working in fashion in various interests and capacities. Still, with one thing in common–they’re able to use fashion not only to express themselves but their culture and heritage as well. We speak with two Diné youth entrepreneurs who turned their passions into thriving enterprises on the Navajo Nation and are redefining how to conduct business by staying innovative while incorporating their culture. For pageant queen Sydney Peyketewa, pageants give her the chance to have fun while providing an opportunity for her to exhibit her Pueblo culture. It also makes us very proud to see how close to her Pueblo culture Sydney is. Lastly, we meet well-known youth musicians who are carving out their unique type of music. Diné sisters Tewakeedah “Rain Spirit” and Dachuneeh “Rising Sun” Martin are a duo known throughout Indian Country for performing contemporary Navajo music with a unique twist. Diné youth violinist Kylie Jim–her voice so soft-spoken, yet her violin playing leaves an audience in awe–will soon be Indian Country’s phenomenal violin prodigy. These youth are the Future; they are blazing their own paths and calling their own shots. They’re all on the cusp of greatness, and we are so humbled to have them be a part of the Future Issue.
Native Youth on
y t i n u m m o C , e r u Cult & Couture We speak with five Native youth from the Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara Nation on using fashion to showcase their culture and how they plan to contribute to their community, while modeling the newest collection by Red Berry Woman. Written by Kelly Holmes (Lakota) Photography by Norma Baker-Flying Horse (Hidatsa/Dakota/Assiniboine)
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lmer Flying Horse Jr. (Hunkpapa Lakota/Dakota/ Assiniboine/Diné) is a youth known for his athleticism but lately interested in modeling professionally, thanks to his mother, who is fashion designer Norma Baker-Flying Horse of Red Berry Woman. Since she was a little girl, Shealyse Lynn Chase (Mandan/Hidatsa/ Arikara/Hunkpapa Lakota) always wanted to model and has modeled since she was eight years old. Signed with a modeling agency, Shealyse enjoys showcasing her culture with the fashion that she wears on the runway. Tessa Abbey (Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara/Crow/Dakota/Assiniboine) loves showcasing her culture with fashion also by wearing moccasins in place of high heels. Cadence Bracklin (Hidatsa/Ojibwe) is a 17-year-old model whose passion is to break into the fashion industry through fashion design or makeup artistry. For new model Jonna Grace Brady (Hidatsa/Arikara/Sac & Fox/Cheyenne/Pawnee/Otoe/Kiowa/Apache/
Tonkawa), modeling and fashion are platforms to educate and showcase the resiliency of Indigenous people, which is why she is interested in modeling more in the future. These Native youth are interested in modeling with intentions. They're able to present their culture and heritage through fashion and modeling while connecting with designers from all over the continent. The youth also utilize their platforms to speak to other youth to encourage them while asking community leaders to consider listening to them. Thank you for joining us! Please share with us a bit of yourself. Elmer Flying Horse Jr.: My name is Elmer Flying Horse Jr., and my Native name is Matho Ska, which means White Bear. I was given that name by my late grandfather, Ron Moccasin Sr. My parents are Elmer and Norma Flying Horse. I have five sisters and two brothers. I'm a sophomore at Mandaree High School in Mandaree, North Dakota. My hobbies include playing basketball and football and dancing chicken at powwows. Shealyse Lynn Chase: I'm Shealyse Chase, and I'm currently attending Southern New Hampshire University with a 4.0 GPA to pursue my Bachelor's Degree. My days consist of mediation, working with crystals, studying, and spending time with my loved ones. I'm a Leo mom to two hairless cats, Prince Muleak and Poseidon God of the Sea, and an auntie to two beautiful girls Jordynn and Reese. I'm an entrepreneur, and I run a beadwork business called Queens Creations, which has a website that lists all the items available and gives you an option to customize pieces. I strive to maintain gratitude, peace, happiness, and positivity.
Elmer wearing his regalia.
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Elmer wearing Red Berry Woman.
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Shealyse Lynn Chase wearing Red Berry Woman.
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Cadence Bracklin: I'm Cadence Bracklin, "Sacred White Buffalo Calf Woman." I'm 17 years old and a junior at New Town High School in New Town, North Dakota. I'm an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nations and an Ojibwe descendant from Lac Courte Oreilles Chippewa Nation in Wisconsin. Jonna Grace Brady: My name is Jonna Grace Brady, and I'm from New Town, North Dakota. I live on the Fort Berthold Reservation. I'm 18 years old. When did you become interested in modeling? Is modeling or working in fashion something you're interested in doing? Elmer Jr.: I wasn't interested in modeling or fashion, but watching my mom–Red Berry Woman–create these garments for these male and female models; I was forced to
model some of the male attire that she made [laughs]. My mom's recent virtual fashion show on Instagram was my first real experience in fashion. I was scared and nervous at first, but Tyler White, a male model for Red Berry Woman, gave me advice on walking and posing on the runway. Modeling in my mom's show has piqued my interest in future events and the fashion industry. Shealyse: I've been modeling since I was eight years old, and even when I was younger than that, my dream was to be a model. My first experience with modeling was when I walked for Native American fashion designer Darlene Perkins of Red Lighting Couture. Since then, I have never stopped and don't plan to. I'm 20 years old now. Throughout my years of modeling in the fashion industry, I have been signed with a modeling agency, took classes about Shealyse wearing her regalia.
runway, acting, modeling itself, social networking, and much more. Working in this industry is something I will continue to do. I aspire to fulfill my life's purpose and make myself happy. Tessa: When I was younger, I always liked to be in front of the camera and enjoyed getting all dolled up, so I guess I can say I've always wanted to model in any way. Modeling is something that I'd always wanted to do and something I wish I can continue to do. Cadence: The 2018 Native Fashion in The City fashion show in Denver, Colorado, was my first show ever modeling with my sister Cinrique Bracklin. This is where I fell in love with the world of Native fashion. Since then, we've traveled to fashion shows throughout the western United States. I found that fashion and I go together amazingly; I found a home with it at an early age with its beauty, expression, and creativity, which led me to develop the passion for pursuing my life as a fashion designer. If I should choose to pursue another career, I will always have fashion. I'm self-taught in the art of makeup, and doing other models' makeup has come as a saving grace many times, and this is always a skill needed in the fashion world. Jonna: I'm a beginner at modeling, but I enjoy doing it. Yes, I am definitely interested! How are you able to showcase your culture and heritage through fashion? Shealyse: I think that culture and heritage are reflected in each designer's creations, and I'm able to showcase this through a presentation on the runway. Various designers from different tribes have created the clothing I modeled over the years, each having its distinct style and meaning reflecting various unique Native cultures. I've modeled for designers such as Sho Sho Esquiro from the Yukon, Lesley Hampton of Ontario, Red Berry Woman of the MHA Nation, Cynthia Trujillo, Della of the Crow Nation, Trickster Company based out of Alaska, and many more. Tessa: I can showcase my culture through my moccasins while the other girls wear heels. I can show people what my people would wear on their feet back then. Cadence: I can showcase my culture and heritage hand in hand through fashion simply for who I am because I was raised and grounded with standards, beliefs, culture, heritage, and spirituality. It defines the young woman I am today, including how I carry myself publicly as a Native model. Jonna: Modern fashion allows us to share a very small piece of our identity in our designs. It allows us a platform to educate and showcase our resiliency as Indigenous people.
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In what ways do you plan on contributing to the Future of your people? Why are you the Future? Elmer Jr.: Continuing with my cultural traditions and working for my college degree to benefit my people. Also, learning my language and helping spread my language to honor my ancestors. Shealyse: I plan to serve as a mentor for the youth generation and share my knowledge and experiences with them to encourage them to follow their hearts' desires. To instill motivation and teach them to spread positivity and be there as a support for anyone who needs it. Tessa: Well, I hope to go to an art school and, if I'm good enough, draw and paint what life on the reservation was like for my ancestors and the family that I grew up with. Tessa wearing her regalia.
Tessa Abbey wearing Red Berry Woman.
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Cadence Bracklin wearing Red Berry Woman.
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Not only to draw them but to show people who and where my brothers, sisters, and I come from. I'm the future, so my people have another voice to be heard from. Cadence wearing her regalia.
support of family and friends, I kept pursuing fashion; now, here I am today telling you about my life at 17 years of age. Jonna: I plan to contribute to our people's future by living our cultural way of life. Our people are so much more than the beautiful pictures you see. We have a beautiful culture that we have to keep alive. I'm the future because I'm young, but I'm the now because I'm young too. Everything I do and don't do today will affect the future. I plan on making good decisions now to encourage a positive future for everyone. Why do community leaders need to provide more opportunities for Native youth to grow and succeed? How can community leaders help you? Elmer Jr.: I think community leaders need to visit the schools more and listen to us kids.
Cadence: As young adults, we have dreams of being the best we can in the career of sports, education, the media world, etc. I am the example; anything is possible if you set your mind to it. I always encourage my friends to follow their hearts; the outcome will always be worth it as we are the future. So, with the encouragement and
Shealyse: I think the talent that lies within the Native youth is so powerful, and their potential is baffling. They need to be given the tools to work towards their goals and unconditional support, so they are inspired and encouraged by their community to pursue greatness in whichever form they choose. The younger generation is this world's future, and they can shine light on their cultures and spread knowledge about their heritage through many different channels. With the guidance of their local community, they can feel more empowered and determined to showcase this. Community leaders can help by encouraging, supporting, and creating opportunities for youth and young adults in creative arts, culture including fashion disciplines, mentoring, financial support, and NATIVE MAX MAGAZINE | 13
much more; there is no limit to what the Native youth can achieve. Tessa: I'd like to see community leaders more involved with their peoples' lives. Now I'm not saying they should know every one of us, but they should open more group activities for their youth to grow. From our younger generations, I would like to hear that they have something to do on weekends, like Native arts classes or dance or other things besides basketball. I want our kids to have more opportunities to seek out what they are good at and not have too hard of a time trying. My community leaders can help me by helping my younger siblings and the next generation. They can help them by making our communities drug- and alcohol-free. It would also help if they could help the disabled children; the children born with special needs often need certain surgeries or therapies, and to help with that, it would be nice if our leaders could open our facilities such as those.
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Cadence: My goals and collaborations with my community and peers are to provide knowledge to our leaders about who we are and who we are becoming instead of waiting for them to decide for us. Opportunities are out here; we, as Native youth, are on the rise to success! Jonna: Community leaders need to provide more opportunities for Native youth to grow and lead because we need the support of our community to make changes. We need leadership experiences to shape into the leaders we will one day be called upon to be. Native youth should feel supported and empowered by their communities. If more youth felt the support, like long ago, then maybe we could have fewer youth going down harder paths. Community leaders can help us by creating programs for us and having us help make the programs. Jonna wearing her regalia.
Jonna Brady wearing Red Berry Woman.
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Shop Red Berry Woman at redberrywoman.com
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Model Moment: Hannah Geauvreau-Turner We catch up with Hannah Geauvreau-Turner, an international model who works with and mentors fellow Native youth. THE EDGE Along with being a full-time college student and an active ambassador for Native youth, Hannah Geauvreau-Turner (Ojibwe from Onigaming First Nation) is also an international model with experience in pageantry. Despite hardships she endured at a young age, Hannah is determined to work with and mentor Native youth. Hannah shares with us her story, how her late mother inspires her, what it was like modeling in Peru, and her continuing to support Indigenous youth. Hi Hannah, thank you for joining us. Please share with us a bit of yourself. My name is Hannah Geauvreau-Turner; I am 24 years old and a full-time student at Conestoga College in Ontario, Canada. I am a National Ambassador of Hope for the We Matter Organization that focuses on Indigenous youth life promotion. What is your tribe? Where are you from? My tribe is Ojibwe, and I am from Onigaming First Nation. You’re an advocate for Indigenous youth and work as an Ambassador of Hope for causes such as We Matter. Why are you so active in the community? What inspires you? My life has not been easy growing up; I lost my mom at age seven and endured some very tough hardships during my life. My hardships and life experiences have led me to want to help other Indigenous youth through sharing my story, being open and transparent about the difficulties I went through, and what helped me the most. My family is my inspiration always to continue forward. When did you become interested in modeling? Hannah Geauvreau-Turner. Hairstyle, makeup and photography by Rachel Jones.
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Below: Hannah participating in Miss Teen Model Internacional 2016; Hannah’s mother Yvonne who competed in a pageant in 1985. (Photos: courtesy)
I became interested in modeling at a very young age, ever since I first started walking [laughs]. I would try to walk in my mom’s high heels and wear makeup. I watched America’s Next Top Model with my Koko at her house when I was young [Koko is short for ‘kokum,’ which means grandma in the Ojibwe language]. My mother, Yvonne, was a fantastic singer and guitar player. She represented my community in a pageant around 1985 and was second runner-up. My mom is one of my inspirations to become who I am today.
In the “Miss Teen Model Internacional 2016” pageant, my cultural outfit of the presentation was a beautiful fully beaded dress. This was an inspiration of my culture through the beauty of beadwork. The beaded crown I am using in the photos shared is my mother’s. My Koko beaded this for her over twenty-five years ago, and I am honored to have passed this on. I also showcase my culture and heritage through the way I dress, the photoshoots I am involved in, and TikTok. My TikTok is @ hannahmarygt.
Is modeling or working in fashion something you’re interested in doing? Yes, it is. I enjoy modeling and working in the fashion industry. Of course, it was not easy, and modeling itself can be very exhausting, but I had the passion and dedication towards what I was doing. I currently balance my college assignments and projects with We Matter, but I always make time to do some modeling.
In what ways do you plan on contributing to the Future of your people? Why are you the Future? I plan to contribute to the future of my people by continuing to support Indigenous youth through my We Matter workshops and different projects. Mental health is something so essential to talk about and which I relate to. I recently finished a course called “Building Abundance in Indigenous Communities” at Coady International Institute in Nova Scotia. It was a very awesome opportunity to hear from different Indigenous people from across Canada and learn different strategies to support our communities further while also learning traditional knowledge. Youth are the future and can determine the future that we will have. That is why it is so important to strengthen and empower our youth.
Please share with us your journey with modeling so far. I have modeled professionally for over five years in Peru while immersing myself in the language and culture. I have worked in the promo-modeling industry and participated in runways, photoshoots, and television appearances. I have worked with different designers from Peru, such as Ayala Moda, Nina Lasak, and Novia Real. In addition, I represented Canada in the pageant “Miss Teen Model Internacional 2016” in Ica, Peru, and got to see the Nazca Lines, which was an incredible experience. How are you able to showcase your culture and heritage through fashion and modeling? 18 | NATIVE MAX MAGAZINE
Why do community leaders need to provide more opportunities for Native youth to grow and succeed? How can community leaders help you? Community leaders can help native youth by providing more opportunities to encourage success while mentoring them to learn from their experiences. It is also very important to provide Indigenous youth with a voice to speak with their own opinions and experiences.
Behind Ripple Effects of Change is Isabella Cornell Choctaw youth activist and model Isabella “Bella” Cornell advocates for her people across various platforms, including fashion, beautifully and effortlessly.
hey say it takes one idea and willpower to create a ripple effect of change, which youth activist Isabella “Bella” Cornell has plenty of. Bella also has a robust support system behind her–kick-ass Native women and fellow community leaders, changemakers, and activists. Bella has undoubtedly made a name for herself within the last few years: first with her modeling in photoshoots and fashion shows, followed by her activism and speaking up at events and protests, then the moment Bella donated her Crow-designed dress to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington DC. Bella’s dress is now part of the museum’s permanent collection in the exhibition Girlhood (It’s complicated). Lastly and most recently, a ribbon skirt Bella created was worn by former Representative and current U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland when she attended the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, 2021. The news of Deb Haaland wearing a ribbon skirt made by a Native youth created a ripple effect across Indian Country, prompting many people to praise and congratulate Bella. Since she was a little kid, Bella always did advocacy work, attending rallies and community engagement events with her mother, Sarah Adams-Cornell, a well-known community leader and activist in Oklahoma. “I was still being pushed around in strollers,” she explains. “I grew up watching my mom do all kinds of important work to help my community, and so naturally, I wanted to follow in her footsteps so that I could also make myself helpful to the community.” From there, Bella became more involved in different events, such as speaking at rallies, on panels, and in interviews where she talked to elected officials, school boards, and the Secretary of Education at the White House a few years ago. This level of groundwork can be straining on a youth who is also a college student, which is why her community motivates her to stay involved. “I’d say what motivates me is that there is always a need for something in the community,” Bella says. “We as Indigenous people have gone through many hardships, and what keeps me motivated is the eventual betterment of our lives and communities once this work starts being taken seriously by those in positions of power.” Bella has modeled since the age of twelve, where she modeled pieces for different artists. Later, fashion designers contacted Bella to model some of their works. So it wasn’t long after Bella started modeling in fashion shows at age 14. “My first show was Native Fashion in the City 2015. I’ve been attending every show since then but was sad to miss last year because of the growing [COVID-19] pandemic.” Bella admits Native Fashion in the City is her favorite fashion show to model for. “It’s so much fun meeting all these brilliant Indigenous designers, getting to walk their art, and also meet a bunch of new friends too.” Bella started sewing when she was 16-years-old, having learned to sew from her mother and grandmother. Then, Bella learned how to make ribbon skirts. “I quickly became interested in finding different color combinations, experimenting with different fabrics, and looking out into the world for inspiration.” In 2018, Bella started her business, Aiukli Designs, where she creates and sells ribbon skirts and beadwork. “It’s something that’s also good for my spirit and is also healing work for me. It’s a skill that I hold
Bella with her prom date wearing the dress that was donated to the Smithsonian Museum. (Photo by Doug Hoke)
Bella models for designers throughout the country. (Photo by Doug Hoke)
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very close to my heart, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in the future!” Fashion is the perfect platform for Bella to showcase her Choctaw culture, where she can showcase her culture through fashion by incorporating and combining traditional aspects with contemporary elements. “I know a big reason why Indigenous women love ribbon skirts so much is that they serve not only as something pretty to wear, but they also serve as representation for us,” she explains. “When you see an Indigenous woman walk into a room wearing a ribbon skirt, she’s confidently identifying herself, as well as representing herself and her culture in a good way. Seeing Indigenous people proudly displaying their culture through art and fashion makes me very happy and proud.” At the Native Fashion in the City 2018 runway show, Bella modeled for Crow fashion designer Della Big Hair-Stump of Designs by Della. Bella wore a breathtaking strapless dress that featured a hugging bodice of red cloth with a distinctive diamond-shaped appliqué inspired by Choctaw culture, finished with a pleated, full-length bottom. For Bella, the applique on the bodice showcased Cornell’s Choctaw heritage the most. “Traditional Choctaw diamonds were sewn onto the bodice. So not only was it representative of my tribe, but [the whole dress] also represented the larger MMIW+ movement.” Bella took this opportunity to combine her passion for fashion and culture with activism. Bella was inspired by the MMIWG+ movement to wear the red dress she wore for the fashion show to her prom in the spring of 2018 to raise awareness for the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in the United States and Canada. “It was such a beautiful experience wearing it to prom. I felt so beautiful in it, and even better knowing what it symbolized.” In April 2018, Teen Vogue featured Bella and her prom date Jalen Black in an article about how Native teens used their prom attire to celebrate their heritage and culture. Soon after, the Smithsonian Museum reached out to Bella to see if she would be interested in having her dress included in the museum’s permanent collection in the exhibition Girlhood (It’s complicated). Since the dress was Bella’s most prized possession, Bella was hesitant at first because of the experience of museums displaying stolen items from Native tribes. “Initially, I had mixed emotions because Indigenous people have a weird relationship with those museums since they have been known to steal from us.” However, after seeking counsel from her relatives, Bella agreed to donate the dress to the Smithsonian with the hope that more people will educate themselves about the ongoing epidemic of violence perpetrated against Indigenous women. “If and when more people become aware of the situation, hopefully, more people will start to care, and more work will be done,” she said. “So while I am a little sad that it’s no longer in my physical possession, I am happier that its mission is being fulfilled, and therefore is a continuation of my advocacy work.” Bella believes it’s vital that community leaders ho-
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Bella modeling for Della Stump, the designer of Bella’s prom dress. (Photo by Viki Eagle)
“I think that it’s so important that we pay attention to what youth are saying because we as youth will fill in those positions of power one day” nor the youth because it’s them who have so much potential to offer the world. “Youth should be included in discussions about things that directly impact us,” Bella explained. “We should be given more platforms to offer our thoughts about things that we experience.” Bella knows that dominant society has taught youth only to listen and follow directions and do not speak or have an opinion. “But I think that it’s so important that we pay attention to what youth are saying because we as youth will fill in those positions of power one day, and we should start learning about how to connect with each other and be good relatives now.” Now 19 years old, Bella is currently attending Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, as a sophomore, where she’s majoring in Psychology with a Minor in Native American Studies. “I’ve only been here for about two years, but I’ve already fallen in love with the scenery,
community, and experience.” Bella plans to contribute to the future of her people by utilizing her college degrees to provide counseling services to Indigenous youth. “Since there is a lack of mental health resources for Indigenous youth, and also since western colonized practices don’t usually work that well for us,” explains Bella. “I think that we must start paying more attention to youth and their mental health because we cannot do anything if we are not mentally well first.” Aside from that, Bella will continue to do advocacy work in whatever means for the community. “I will always do my best to help my people.” Creating a ripple effect is precisely what Bella does and continues to do. Her resiliency and inspiration shine through anything Bella is a part of, and to see her goals of helping her people–especially the youth–excites us to see the ripple effects of change she’ll have on the world.
If you believe that business is only for adults, think again. We speak with two Diné youth entrepreneurs who not only turned their passions into thriving enterprises but are redefining how to conduct business by staying innovative while incorporating their culture. (Also, we have to mention: both Kamia and Jojo support each other! Jojo stopped in at Kamia’s shop for soap and Starbucks tumbler!)
Indigenous Youth in Business: Kamia Begay and Jaden “Jojo” Kylie Ramon
Story by Kelly Holmes (Lakota)
Illustration of Kamia by Danica Stewart / IG: @ferretandmink
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f you believe that business is only for adults, think again. We speak with two Diné youth entrepreneurs who not only turned their passions into thriving enterprises but are redefining how to conduct business by staying innovative while incorporating their culture. (Also, we have to mention: both Kamia and Jojo support each other! Jojo stopped in at Kamia’s shop for soap and Starbucks tumbler!) The journey to entrepreneurism for 12-year-old soapmaker Kamia Begay (Diné from Shiprock, NM) is beautiful and inspiring. Kamia started making soap to help cope with her father’s death, which helped her keep busy. Now, the seventh-grader creates a wide range of bath products that she sells at two retail stores while employing two full-time employees. Thank you for joining us, Kamia. Please share with us a bit of yourself. Yá’át’ééh [Hello in Navajo]. My name is Kamia Begay. My clans are Bitter Water, born for the Start of the Red Streak People. My parents are Rhianna Brown and Tom Begay (deceased). I’m 12 years old, and I’m in the 7th grade. I’ve played violin since the 4th grade, and I play volleyball competitively. I am an Honor Roll student, and I’m on the Student Council. I was the Treasurer for my school. My favorite subject in school is math. I’m the founder and owner of Nizhóní Soaps. I’m an artist at heart, and I love creating new soaps and products for people to enjoy. When did you become interested in making soaps? I’ve always loved the arts, and I’ve always been fascinated with creating things and crafts. When I lost my dad in the spring of 2019, my mom and family always kept me busy and fostered an environment that
allowed me to be more expressive rather than withdrawn due to the loss of my dad. In the summer of 2019, I watched videos online about crafts, and I came across a video that talked about self-care; one of the videos was a lady making at-home soaps and cosmetics. As I was watching the video, I felt the need to start creating my soaps, and I immediately went to my mom and asked her if she could order supplies to start my first batch of soaps. My mom went online and started sourcing materials. That weekend when I started making soaps, I instantly knew that I wanted to add a “Native Flare” to my products, so I grabbed my mom’s Navajo tea and started infusing them into my first batch! I also had picked fresh river mint the week before in Cove, AZ, and infused it into that batch. After a few weeks of curing, I cut into our first bar, and I fell in love with the smell. Before the pandemic, I always loved going to Roosevelt Row, which hosts a monthly First Friday Art Show where hundreds of artists come out to showcase their work. So I went to my mom and asked her if I could sell these soaps at the art market, and she agreed. So we went on the first Friday in September, and I remember the fantastic response from everyone for my soaps, and we sold out of every bar that night. So I knew that day that I was a Navajo Soapmaker. What inspires your scents and soaps? The reservation! At home, before the pandemic, my mom and I loved going to flea markets, powwows, and visiting family all over the Navajo Nation. During the summer, my mom and I love going out to Cove, where my Nali’s family and my Cheii’s family are from. There you can find the freshest blue corn pollen, aromatic Navajo teas, and tall Yucca
plants. I’ve always loved the different scents of home, so I infused many of my soaps with fresh-picked herbs from the Navajo Nation and essential oils that remind me of who I am and where I’m from. How are you able to showcase your culture and heritage through your business? The primary way I showcase my culture and my Navajo heritage through Nizhoni Soaps is how I make them and what I put into them. I infuse most of our soaps with fresh-picked herbs from the Navajo Nation like yucca, blue corn pollen, Navajo tea, cedar, juniper, and sage. Picking these herbs and infusing them into our vegan bars of soap truly brings me joy, and seeing my customers’ faces when they smell my soaps and reading their comments online truly makes me proud to be a Diné (Navajo) girl from the Navajo Nation! Do you have a favorite soap or scent you’ve made before? Yes! My favorite product also happens to be our top seller: Rez Dirt! I know it sounds different, but the smell of dirt is something I love, and I think I brought this distinct aroma to life and infused it into our line of Rez Dirt soaps and foam washes! Coming in a close second is our Piccadilly soaps. Piccadilly is a treat we have back home, which is a snow cone with pickles, Nerds candy, and (usually) cherry syrup. I captured the essence of Piccadilly from its colors to its distinct cherry smell into our line of Piccadilly soap bars. Is creating soap and having a soap company something you’re interested in doing as a career? Yes! Deep down, I’ve always loved the
Kamia picks fresh natural ingredients for her soaps. Also pictured are some of her popular soaps, including Kamia’s favorite scent, Rez Dirt. (Photos: courtesy)
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THE INSIDER arts! Drawing, painting, and creating. Making soaps is an extension of who I am, and I love doing it. I love seeing my customers’ faces when they smell our products and reading their comments online about how they connect with my company and how a particular smell brought them back to their childhood. The feedback so far has been amazing, and it truly keeps me going! I hope to continue doing this as long as possible, and I know that if I keep innovating and creating, I can provide employment for my people and make it a lifelong career. In what ways do you plan on contributing to the Future of your people? Why are you the Future? Employment! So far, we have hired two full-time employees in Arizona and New Mexico that are on payroll. I want to keep hiring, expanding, and offering opportunities to my people, and to get to that goal, I need to work hard, and I need to keep innovating. I’m so proud to be Indigenous, so proud to be a Navajo girl from the Rez. The future is what we make of it, and I fully intend to showcase the beauty of the Navajo Nation to the world through my company, Nizhoni Soaps. Why do community leaders need to provide more opportunities for Native youth to grow and succeed? How can community leaders help you? Community leaders, in my opinion, need to create an environment to succeed. We already have all the tools necessary, like work ethic and discipline. I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have a mom and family who support me and give life to my ideas and ambitions. When I came up with an idea for a business, they would always tell me, “Ok, shiyazhi [baby in Navajo], what do you need from us, and how can we support you?” Those simple words gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. How can customers get a hold of you if they’re interested in placing an order for one of your soaps? You can visit our website at www. NizhoniSoaps.com, where we offer free shipping. Or visit our two retail stores in Farmington, New Mexico, and Mesa, Arizona. The address to our New Mexico store is 101 South Orchard Suite, 1 Farmington, NM 87401, and our Mesa, AZ location is 1954 S Dobson Rd, Suite 1, Mesa, AZ 85202.
Jaden Kylie Ramon (Diné from Tinian, NM), also known as “Jojo,” is the baker and creator behind JojoCakes. At only 13 years old (and in the eighth grade), Jojo’s an entrepreneur with a full-fledged baking business; at any given time, Jojo has upwards of twenty to thirty orders. Due to her location, Jojo and her family usually deliver her cakes to customers, which is why they were hiring a delivery driver to help out. Jojo’s mother, Lynn Charley, also helped expand their kitchen to streamline Jojo’s operations, from putting in more cabinets to installing two stoves with ovens and two refrigerators. Lynn says they need a conventional oven in the future to help Jojo bake more cakes at a time. Jojo’s talents are displayed through her creations; the designs on her cakes are colorful with vibrant details. Though Jojo creates cakes with popular characters for other youth, she’s excellent at designing cakes with Native flair, especially Diné-inspired motifs, including the Navajo basketry design. This allows Jojo to showcase her culture and heritage through baking. “Yes! Most of my Native doll cakes I put Native clothing on them.” Jojo doesn’t only create cakes for kids’ birthdays, either; she makes cakes for adults’ birthdays and graduations as well as retirement parties. She also makes bouquets of cake pops, chocolatecovered strawberries, and fresh fruits, as well as cakes made entirely of cut-up fruit. Another signature– and popular!–creation of Jojo’s is her doll cakes: a dome-shaped decorated cake which serves as the doll’s dress, with the doll inserted in the middle. Jojo’s first cake she ever made was the doll cake. At only 11 years old, she made the doll cake for her little sister’s birthday. “I made my first cake, now JojoCakes, on my little sister Sam’s birthday when I was 11 years old,” Jojo says. “I didn’t know I had the talent to make and decorate cakes until that day on January 7, 2019.” The doll
wore Diné jewelry and a red dress with tribal print designs made of fondant and frosting. Now, they are some of Jojo’s highly requested orders. Jojo’s favorite cake she’s made so far was the Native nurse doll cake she created for the Miss Indian World Valentine’s Day Cake Decorating Contest last February. Jojo dedicated the cake to all of the frontline workers. Her cake ended up winning first place. “I entered the Miss Indian World Cake Contest, so I made a nurse doll cake to dedicate to all our frontline workers, and I won the contest!” Aside from baking cakes, Jojo also helps her community with food, PPE, and other necessities with her mother, which she loves to do. “I have been helping my community since COVID started, and I have no problem doing it forever.” In January, Jojo was given a professional-grade cake mixer, which was worth $4600. “This is proof that if you help others, you will be blessed,” her mom said of the gift. Jojo plans on contributing to the future of her people through her business and hopes to inspire other kids and youth. “All kids and youth are the future, so teach them and support everything they want to do,” she says. “No matter how old you are, anything is possible.” Baking and creating cakes is something Jojo hopes to continue to do professionally in the future. “Yes, I want to keep JojoCakes going.”
Jojo with her cake she made for the MIW Cake Contest. (Photo: courtesy)
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Sydney Peyketewa: Relaying Messages of Motivation & Pride Through Pageants For Sydney Peyketewa (Pueblo of Zuni), pageants give her the chance to have fun and explore the world while exhbiting her Pueblo culture. Being a pageant queen is hard work. Between traveling and preparing for the big day, participating in pageants takes knowledge and commitment. A good pageant queen must know about and capture the attention of their audience and the judges. For 8-year-old Sydney Peyketewa (Pueblo of Zuni), pageants give her the chance to have fun while providing an opportunity for her to exhibit her Pueblo culture. Can you tell us your name and the story behind it? My name is Sydney Lyla Ray Peyketewa. My Zuni name is Li’la’lu’de’tsa; it belonged to one of my great grandmothers on my father’s side. They named me after her because she was a Pueblo runner in Zuni. Back when there were no cars, we had runners, like cross country runners. They would relay messages to other Pueblos, and she was a part of that committee. So my family saw me as that person. I’m a runner, but they saw me as the person to relay messages to other communities, and that is why I was given her name. Please share a bit about yourself. I’m eight years old, and I turn nine in August. My parents are Clybert and Candra Peyketewa. I’m the oldest of three girls, and I have three
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older brothers. I’m in the 3rd grade, and I go to school in Zuni, New Mexico. My favorite subject in school is reading because one of the wisest people in the world are authors, and I gain knowledge through my reading. When did you first become interested in pageants? When I was four years old, my mother and I saw a beauty pageant in a hotel we were staying at in Phoenix, Arizona. I asked my mom if I could do what the little girls were doing, and she said she would find out how we can enter. It was busy for my family during that year because we had religious obligations, so she said I can do it next year. The following year, I did my first pageant, and we did not know what we were doing. I got on stage, and my mom told me to dance. It’s funny now because I had no direction, and the people watching probably thought I was funny. The pageant’s director was Maggie Chavez, who told my mom I have a lot of potential because I kept going, and she said my modeling skills were very good for my age. She encouraged us to get a coach, so we did. The next pageant after that, I got a low title, but we didn’t give up. We did another local pageant after that, and I finally won the whole pageant. My title was Mega Ultimate Grand Supreme. It was a good feeling, and we
THE INSIDER were thrilled. We were finally ready for national pageants. We started our first pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, and we had so much fun. I didn’t place well, but it was a start. After that pageant, we have gone to different pageants across the country from Dallas, Texas, to Nashville, Tennessee. What inspires your pageant outfits? My outfits are done mainly by the pageant designers. We recently added Native features to my outfits and noticed that the judges love the unique looks of my attire when we incorporate Native prints to my looks. I did a spokesperson event where I spoke of my Native people, and I wore my traditional regalia, and the judges loved it. I started a talent where I sign language to “The Colors of the Wind” from the movie “Pocahontas,” and I wear my traditional regalia. The process is slow trying to find the right outfits for my pageants because we have to see what the judges like. How do you incorporate your culture and heritage through pageants? I always incorporate my beliefs in pageants. I always carry my medicine inside my outfits, and my dad will say a prayer with me in the morning. Before I go on stage, I say a prayer, and I grasp air from the people in the ballroom so that I won’t be scared or intimidated. When I get my crown, I grasp the air, so I inhale all the good blessings, and I will always hold them inside me. I grasp my crown, and I speak to it and thank it for choosing me. When we come home, we stop outside the reservation line and do a blessing, so I don’t bring anything negative or bad illness into our homeland; I leave it outside the reservation. I’m very proud of who I am, and I consider myself very lucky that I am raised traditionally because it helps me spiritually. What are your future goals? Are pageants something you’re interested in doing as a career? In the future, I want to become a head start teacher. I’m teaching myself sign language, and I want to teach that as well. I want to be a special education teacher. I believe pageants make me confident in myself and make me open-minded. I deal with many different people from all over the country, and I see that Zuni is not the only place that is special. I learn from my pageant friends that I can be different, learn positive things from other places, and bring it to Zuni. Once I get older, I don’t see myself doing pageants, but I believe I will still participate in pageants one way or another, like helping a young child compete. I want to compete in a Native-based pageant like for a University. I haven’t decided on which one.
that I want to get are titles that come with a robe. That means you did very well and that you are considered royalty, and you would get to crown the winners the following year. I’ve gotten a few royalty robes before they were from pageants in Las Vegas. Right before crowning, my mom always tells me, “Sydney, it doesn’t matter what title you get. You did an amazing job and always be happy with what you get. We had fun, and you are very lucky to do pageants.” How do you deal with the criticism of doing pageants? In the beginning, I did not have a lot of supporters. Some of my family and community did not understand why I did pageants and said there was no purpose. But now, my whole family supports me, and the majority of the community fully supports me because they’ve seen how I’ve grown. They call me a mature 8-year-old that has so much knowledge about life. I see things clearly, and I’m told I am a fast learner. I stand up for my peers, and I help children with special needs. In school, I want to be able to stand up to bullying. Pageants help me boost my confidence, and my supporters see that. If anyone says anything bad about what I’m doing, I ignore it because I know what I’m doing is not a bad thing. Why are you the Future? It’s important that I start deciding what I want to do now because I will be confident when the time comes to voice my thoughts and concerns. I believe making mistakes at my age is acceptable because I don’t want to make mistakes when my people rely on me for guidance. I want to be a voice for all native American’s, and I want to be a leader. I want to encourage people not to settle; we need to keep moving forward in this country. Pageants are helping me with public speaking, so when I get older, I won’t be afraid to speak
in a crowded room. One day I want to speak to people, and all I want is to have people tell me that I encouraged them. Why do community leaders need to provide more opportunities for Native youth to grow and succeed? How can community leaders help you? It is important to me that the leaders in my community support me. I wish we had swimming, dance, gymnastics, theater arts, and cheer available to us in our community. Unfortunately, if we want to join an extracurricular activity, we have to go out of town. The nearest town is 45 minutes away. I tried to sign up for cheer, but I didn’t qualify because I didn’t know how to do a tumble then, and the gym was closed off to cheerleaders only, so there was no place for me to learn any tumbling moves. The next town is Albuquerque, NM, which is about three hours away. Most of the time, I’m teaching myself things through YouTube. Whatever I want to teach myself, I resort to YouTube. I’ve also been teaching myself how to do sign language. I have an uncle who can’t speak, and he would’ve learned to communicate if he went to a deaf school, but his parents didn’t want to send him away. My family believes if he had the opportunity to learn sign language, he would’ve been able to express his mind. Zuni doesn’t offer a lot of opportunities, and I want my leaders to recognize that we need more resources for the children to learn. The activities help children grow out of their shells, and it would help build confidence in the youth. Most of the children in Zuni are secluded because they have yet to find out what they are good at, and right now, my tribal leaders have yet to find out who I am and what I do. The councilwomen know I am, and they support what I do, but other members think my work is not recognizable. I hope one day I can change that. Sydney competing in pageants throughout the US. (Photos: courtesy)
What titles have you won? Usually, when you go to a pageant, you get a crown regardless of how well you did. We don’t want a princess title, but sometimes I get princess titles. It’s the lowest title I can get. The titles
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The Look: Hat: Personal, made by Helena Trapper Turtleneck: Sunday Best Coat: Wool Coat by Lesley Hampton Jeans: Kollar Clothing Jewelry: U3 Official
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FASHION FULL CIRCLE
Growing up on a rural reserve, he struggled with his identity and was bullied; flipping through pages of fashion magazines was the only form of escapism. Now, Cree youth Scott Wabano is taking on the fashion industry as a model, fashion stylist, and fashion designer while gracing the cover of the first Native fashion magazine, Native Max. We sat down with Scott for an exclusive interview about his fashion career journey, what inspired him to pursue fashion and how he presents his culture through his work in fashion. WORDS BY KELLY HOLMES PHOTOGRAPHY BY OJIBWE YOUTH PHOTOGRAPHER BLISS THOMPSON
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cott grew up in the rural community of Moose Cree First Nation territory, located on the west side of James Bay. Scott struggled with their identity throughout his childhood, including being bullied for being “too feminine.” That led to Scott finding a sort of escapism in fashion and pop culture magazines; flipping through the pages allowed him a glimpse of the outside world beyond the borders of the reserve. Yet, there was a lack of connection and acceptance as there were no Native American or First Nations models or fashion inside the magazines. Inspired, Scott decided to move to Toronto to pursue a career in fashion. Now, Scott expanded their fashion career as a model, fashion stylist, and fashion designer. His resume exhibits closely working with major fashion companies and styling national campaigns, including designing his own fashion brand, WABANO. Aside from helping create safe spaces for LGBTQ2S+ youth in urban settings, Scott makes social media content that helps others who live in rural areas connect experiences. Scott is undoubtedly influencing Native fashion while breaking barriers of being a Cree two-spirit youth taking on the fashion industry. Please share with us a bit of yourself. Where do I start? First and foremost, my name is Scott Wabano. I’m a two-spirit Eeyou’d, from the Cree Nation of Waskaganish but born and raised in the Moose Cree First Nation territory. I currently reside in the Treaty 13, Dish with One Spoon Treaty Territory known as Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where I work as a Fashion Stylist and Creative Director for my brand, Wabano. Throughout my life, I’ve always had a passion for my community and the arts. It led to many opportunities, some great ones including becoming a National Ambassador of Hope for the We Matter Organization, an Indigenous-youth-led organization here in Canada dedicated to Indigenous Youth support, hope, and life promotion. I guess you can say I’ve lived quite a nomadic life. I moved a lot throughout my life, figuring out what I wanted to do with my life and who I was as an individual. It took me a while to fully embrace who I was as a two-spirit Eeyou’d. At the time, I didn’t know my two-spirit identity and just identified as a gay man. That took some time as well, but fortunately, I’ve lived a very privileged life of having a family who accepted me and a family I didn’t necessarily have to come out to. That is a privilege not many gay, let alone two-spirit and LGBTQ+ people have these days. Especially where I come from, it’s still very taboo to be out and proud, and sadly a lot of youth and their mental health suffers because of it. There’s still a lot of harmful colonial behavior within Indigenous communities, so I try my best to let youth know that they can overcome that. What is your tribe? Where are you from? I am an Eeyou’d from the Eeyou Istchee territory. Both of
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my families are from the Cree Nation of Waskaganish and Moose Cree First Nation. My great grandparents also had ties with Attawapiskat First Nation, but they relocated to find work like most families. So my families from Quebec and Attawapiskat migrated to the Moose Cree First Nation territory, where my grandparents worked as trappers and craftspeople. You work so closely in the Native fashion community. When did you become interested in fashion? Growing up, fashion has always been a part of my life, especially from the matriarchs in my family. My late kokum (grandmother in Cree) was an amazing craftswoman. Every time I think of her, I always remember the smell of moose hide used to fill the room when she would work on her crafts. She used to create a lot of clothing for my family and stuff to sell as well. Through that, it passed down to my mom making my powwow regalia together growing up. My aunt from my dad’s side also played a very instrumental role in my love for fashion and regalia as she used to help create mine. So that’s my background in Native fashion, I guess you can say. As a youth, I was bullied a lot for being who I was. I was a very feminine child who had long black hair. There weren’t many youths in my community who were powwow dancing at the time, so they didn’t understand why I had long hair or what powwow dancing was, let alone what two-spirit meant at that point. I didn’t even know I was two-spirit, but I knew I was different. From that, it led to me finding a sort of escapism in fashion and pop culture magazines. Browsing through the pages, the red carpet photos always fascinated me. What people wore, who people wore, and why particular designers were such “household names.” Browsing through these pages, though, there was not one Indigenous person I saw, which also led me to wonder why. And I remember being a kid thinking, “I want me and my friends to be in these magazines. I want to see Indigenous people in these magazines, on these runways and red carpets, on billboards, and wherever we see mainstream fashion.” I always knew that it’s very personal and unique to us regarding Indigenous peoples and our fashion. A lot of our designs for regalia or even names come to us in various forms: dreams, ceremonies, prayers, it’s very intertwined with our identities and our teachings. I always felt like that should be shared with the world. We’re significantly underrepresented, and that needs to change. How about modeling; what do you love about modeling? Modeling is honestly really fun as well! It gives me a chance to break out of my comfort zone, which I’ve always been a fan of doing. There’s just something powerful about it as well. When reflecting on history books of Indigenous people, you see a lot of photos of our ancestors just looking all deadly, resilient, and beautiful. I always think of that when I model. There’s a sense of empowerment when you
The Look: Hat: Wabano Sunglasses: thrifted Tee: Wabano Jacket: Lesley Hampton x Scott Wabano Pants: thrifted Shoes: Brown’s Shoes Jewelry: Vitaly
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The Look: Hat: Awessah Sunglasses: thrifted Turtleneck: Sunday Best Leggings: Lululemon Canada Skirt: ‘Medicine Skirt’ by Curtis Oland Coat: Wool Coat by Lesley Hampton Jewelry: Gifted by my mother, made from Polar Bear claws
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model. It’s good to channel all that energy and confidence through modeling. Besides modeling, you are also a fashion stylist as well as a fashion designer. Which one do you prefer over the other? How are you able to express yourself between each one? It’s so hard to compare the two because I love them both for different reasons. And they both go hand in hand as well. I feel like if you are a fashion designer, you’re also a stylist at the same time because you’re also picturing how your designs would be worn, what accessories would go with them, who will wear your designs, and so much more. With designing, I can share my messages, visions, and dreams with the world. With styling, the focus is less on me and more on the other person, whether it’d be a model, client, or designer. With styling, I can see the vision of what my client wants and translate that through my own personal fashion lens into what I think they would like, hopefully executing what their vision was. Styling or designing? I honestly love them both equally! Please share with us your journey working in the fashion industry so far.
school because I always had that mindset of “finish what you started,” so I stayed in Waskaganish for a bit to save money and went back to school in Toronto in January 2019. Ever since I got back, it was just a strict motivation to learn. From anywhere and anyone I could meet. I started back at my college program and joined the Fashion Group International Toronto, which led to many networking opportunities again. That’s what I noticed about the fashion industry; it’s all about networking. It’s very intimidating sometimes, especially being a two-spirit person. I started to reach out to people, and that’s how I started working with Manitobah Mukluks as a store manager. That’s also around the time I began to work for Lesley Hampton and was also interning for her on the side. She’s played a massive role in my journey in fashion. She’s taught me so much and has shown me the ins and outs of the Toronto fashion industry. Through that, it led to a collaboration, to now a friendship. Lesley and I always just had a close connection when it came to fashion and our people. As Indigenous designers, I feel like it’s always ingrained within us. I mentioned to Lesley that I wanted to get more experience as a stylist, so that’s when she started getting me to style all of her lookbooks and campaigns. It was so fun and so honored for her to trust me with that. It’s been about a year of styling Lesley’s lookbooks now, and I’ve also styled her for a couple of interviews pre-COVID. Significant projects I have styled so far would be the Indigenous Fashion Week Toronto 2020 Campaign and Sephora Canada’s Indigenous History Month Campaign, to name a few. It’s been such a wild ride of styling, but designing is a whole other ride that I’m excited to take. I launched The OFFiCiAL Collection on May 7th, and it was sold out by the end of the day on May 8th. Now that was also so wild to me and still something I’m still trying to process. It’s been quite a journey so far, but I’m so grateful, honored, and excited for the opportunities. It just means that people are finally seeing that we are meant to be in these spaces our people weren’t in before. There’s a shift and change happening within the industry, and it’s beautiful, and I’m honored to be a part of that change.
“ As Indigenous people, fashion has always just been a part of our way of life. It’s always been tied within our identity, our family, and our communities. “
It’s been a long one, so brace yourself. Well, it all started when I left my nation to pursue my college degree in Toronto in 2017. I was studying Fashion Arts and Business at Humber College, which led me to meet many people from different cultures, which is what I love about Toronto! Through that, I started attending networking events around the city. Being fashion students, we often got tickets to go to fashion shows and fashion weeks. I also was a social media manager for my school’s fashion magazine, which brought some fantastic networking opportunities. I ended up finding an internship with Vitaly Design, a national jewelry company, working as their wholesales intern under their sales department. But because it was a full-time, paid internship position, it led me to drop out of my college program in July 2017, where I worked with them for a couple of months. Unfortunately, our department got shut down, so I ended up moving back to Waskaganish in October 2017. While I was up there, I decided to try and start my clothing line then. I launched a couple of tees and beanies, but I was also launching during the worst time to launch a new business: during the holidays. So that didn’t end up well. It also led to horrible partnerships with former suppliers because I wasn’t too knowledgeable on the business side, so that screwed me over. I knew I wanted to go back to
What was the inspo and moodboard behind your cover shoot? Tell us all about it! “The Wearer of Many Hats” basically summarizing my entire life. It’s been a journey to get to where I am, and I wasn’t always in fashion. I’ve carried a lot of roles throughout my life that I think helped me become the person I am
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today. As a business owner, you’re also taking many roles: your own accountant, your own PR, your own administration, your own manager, etc. It gets super tiring, but it’s a part of the job. Toronto has been a very key place in my journey. Within fashion, within life, and even with finding my identity as a two-spirit person. I wanted to pay homage to that. It reflects my personal style as well too. As you might probably tell, black is my favorite color, and in my everyday wardrobe, whether I am working on a shoot or just out with friends, you will always find me dressed in black and a hat. How are you able to showcase your culture and heritage through fashion? As Indigenous people, fashion has always just been a part of our way of life. It’s always been tied within our identity, our family, and our communities. As time passed, many nations throughout the globe had to adapt to the western world and all of its technology. Even though our worlds evolved, our people still hold their knowledge, values, and ways of life closely. Reflecting on my designs, using quotes such as “My Queerness is Traditional” and “My Existence is the Resistance” not only is sending a very clear statement of who I am and what my identity means to me, but how other Indigenous people or BIPOC people should be viewing their existence. Using cones that you would typically see on a jingle dress or any other form of garment and jewelry made by many nations and incorporating within a modern motto bomber design is another straightforward way of integrating something close to me into my fashion too. We are living in an age where much Indigenous youth are learning to live in both worlds. I am an Indigenous youth adjusting to that, so I want to wear and see fashion that reflects that.
When reflecting on my time living on the reservation, social media was one of my forms of staying connected or feeling connected to other people worldwide. I struggled with my identity growing up, so it was hard for me to connect with people around me. Social media was a way for me to connect with others who share the same issues that I was facing or like the same things that I did. So when I reflect on that, I want to be that same person for other Indigenous youth living in communities. So far, my journey has been nothing but great, and I’ve been blessed to have people that have been supportive and loving and only want to see me thrive. It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative side of social media, but it’s essential to have the right support system around you and the proper grounding techniques to make sure none of that interferes with your life. Not going to lie; there are times where I want to delete my social media because of the amount of negativity I see on it, but I always remind myself of my time on social media as a child and how alone it didn’t make me feel.
“ We have never seen our ancestors occupying the spaces our people are occupying today. It is now the time for our people to reclaim the spaces and reclaim these narratives fully.”
You are also a growing influencer on social media. What made you turn to post on social media? What has your journey been like so far, being so active on social media? Well, it all started when I left my home community which was back in high school. Being away from my family, I had to use social media to keep them updated on my life, so they didn’t think I was dead. As awful as that sounds, that’s basically why. Through that, I also started to grow a following, and people began to notice who I was and enjoy my content which I thought was weird. But it also taught me the power of social media and how to use it positively to help Indigenous people living in isolated communities.
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In what ways do you plan on contributing to the Future of your people? Why are you the Future?
I think just being who I am and where I am contributes to our people’s future. We have never seen our ancestors occupying the spaces our people are occupying today. It is now the time for our people to reclaim the spaces and reclaim these narratives fully, and I’m one of the few people who are doing that. So many Indigenous youths worldwide are standing up and ensuring the world is a better place for all. Creating safe spaces so other youth can come and occupy these, where they can walk into an industry and not have to question if they deserve to be there because we do; if not, we deserve to be running that sh*t. Why do community leaders need to provide more opportunities for Native youth to grow and succeed? How can community leaders help you? There’s still a lot of colonial views within our communities. True community leaders don’t need to provide more opportunities for youth; they do it. Creating mentorship programs, whether for our economic development or cultural development, starts with our leaders educating our youth and providing them with the proper knowledge and tools for them to succeed.
Visit Scott’s online shop at scottwabano.com
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The Martin Sisters Make Traditional Music with a Modern Twist Meet Diné sisters Tewakeedah “Rain Spirit” and Dachuneeh “Rising Sun” Martin, the duo known throughout Indian Country for performing contemporary Navajo music with a unique twist. Photography by Pete Sands (Diné)
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iné sisters Tewakeedah “Rain Spirit” and Dachuneeh “Rising Sun” Martin (Zuni-Water Edge born for Dakota) are known throughout Indian Country for performing contemporary Navajo music as well as their fun music videos. “We value our culture because it’s important to us to promote our culture and continue to inspire the youth,” the Martin sisters explain. “To this day, we are grateful for all the opportunities and the path that our music has led us to the chance to share music.” Their first introduction to music was from their parents, Kevin and Mabel Martin, through ceremonial and traditional ways of life. Some of the first Navajo traditional songs the sisters heard were from the Todineeshzee’ Singers and Davis Mitchell. Performing songs and music first began in elementary for the duo, when they competed in a school pageant. “It was an honor that we both held a title for our schools together,” they said. “We became the school princesses, as a 5th grader and a 6th grader.” Tewakeedah held the title as “Miss Red Mesa Junior Teen” and Dachunneh as “Miss Little Red Mesa.” The Martin sisters found (and continue to find inspiration) from seeing the faces of elders and children light up when they sing. “We remember the first time we sang ‘Country Road’ sung by Davis Mitchell [the King of Navajo Song and Dance Songs], everyone in the audience stood and clapped,” the duo explains. “Coming from an elementary student at the time, it was the best feeling ever.” Since then, they became known as the Martin sisters, and
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the road to singing for the people began. Over the years, their love of music grew from Navajo traditional songs to contemporary music. As they make the slow move towards contemporary music, Diné filmmaker, musician, and mentor Pete Sands inspires the sisters and works with them to write contemporary music. “He has helped us explore and bring out our contemporary music to life.” And it’s working for them; the sisters are becoming known for their contemporary and unique mix of lyrical style--lyrics with modern themes sung in the style of traditional Navajo music: “K-Pop Dream Boy” is about K-pop boy bands with “Piccadilly Billy” about a love triangle between a teenage girl, Hot Cheeto Babe and Billy. Both songs are from their CD they released in collaboration with Alger Greyeyes of Todineeshzhee’ lead singer through Canyon Records called “Epiphany-Diné Nishłí.” “Piccadilly Billy” was featured on a top-five list of the new world music category on iTunes. At young ages, the sisters already have a booming music career. Tewakeedah and Dachuneeh have performed at events from across the Navajo Nation to New York City, Alabama, and Washington DC. They also have produced music videos under their belts. “Piccadilly Billy” was produced into a professional music video by Pete. “We were lucky to have an excellent film producer to direct the music video,” they explain. “He knows how to go about it and planned it out.” The sisters explained how Pete planned the video shoot, reached out to everyone featured in the music video, and directed it.
“Planning was a bit of work, making sure everyone has water, snacks, and feel comfortable at the location.” Although the sisters’ portion of filming took a lot of reshooting, they enjoyed working with Pete. “Pete just knew when we were tired and knew how to work with all of us as he was filming. It was fun.” In addition, the sisters have a nice following on their social media networks. On their Facebook page, you’ll find their music videos as well as mobile phone videos capturing the sisters singing, playing guitar, and performing at events. The most recent event the sisters performed was the 2021 Arizona Indian Festival in Scottsdale, Arizona. Though they love to sing for the people and share songs with everyone, Tewakeedah and Dachuneeh aren’t sure if they would pursue a career in music just yet. “It would be good to sing for a career, but we also have to try and balance our life with our education,” the sisters said. “If it happens, it would be great, but, most likely, we have to focus on school and a career for now. You never know, though, maybe someday.” Tewakeedah and Dachuneeh are actively contributing to the future of their people. Through each of their songs, videos, and performances, the Martin sisters are doing their best to promote their culture and language through music. “It is our job to try and preserve our culture, and someday little children will be the ones to try and do the same, to preserve our language and culture,” they explain. “We are the future because we will grow up
“We are the future because we will grow up and become adults soon and have to carry out our culture and language.” and become adults soon and have to carry out our culture and language.” They also believe community leaders can provide more opportunities for Native youth to grow and succeed. “We are the future; our age group will soon be adults, and we will lead our people. Our elders will retire and rely on us to lead our people.” The sisters suggest that it’d be a great idea if community leaders provided youth educational needs and scholarships to go to college while making it possible for youth to return home to help their people.
Meet Diné Youth Violinist Kylie Jim, Indian Country’s Phenomenal Violin Prodigy Her voice is soft-spoken, yet her violin playing captivates an audience. Meet Kylie Jim, Indian Country’s phenomenal violin prodigy.
iné youth violinist Kylie Sarah Jim (of the Tséníjíkiní clan from Ganado, Arizona) had an interest in music since age 6, having played the clarinet, ukulele, drums, bass, piano, guitar, and violin throughout her life. Now, Kylie has extensive experience performing at public events, including at New York Fashion Week. Kylie blends her talents of classical music with her spiritual, contemporary, and cultural works. Her compassion and spirit build a long-lasting connection with her audience, while her uplifting music leaves them in awe. Kylie began playing music with her grandfather when she was six years old. After moving to Flagstaff, Arizona, Kylie joined a music class in elementary school, where she grew fond of music. Her grandfather Harrison Silversmith, elementary school music teacher Mrs. Blauvelt, Native American Advisor Al Scott, and music mentor Pete Sands inspired her music. “The people I’ve met and who always support my music also play a huge role as to why I strive for the best,” she explains. “I play what I feel, and I hope the audience feels what I feel when I perform my pieces.” The first musical accomplishment of Kylie’s was a soloist recital in the fifth grade, where she played “Für Elise”--one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s most famous compositions--and “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash on the piano. Though these were the first songs she learned to play musically, Kylie won an award for her performance. Upon entering middle school, Kylie focused on playing the violin. Then, in the eighth grade, she joined an orchestra and joined a gospel band with her former Native American advisor from elementary school, where they played at different events and gatherings. Kylie’s first solo gig was in high school, in which she performed “Go My Son” by Arlene Nofchissey Williams and Carnes Burson as a part of her talent showcase in the Miss and Mr. Native American Cooking High School Pageant. Shortly after, Kylie performed the national anthem at the Healing and Wellness Powwow in Flagstaff. In the summer before her junior year of high school, Kylie took part in a film called “The Hurting Song,” directed by Pete, a documentary film that advocates and brings awareness to the MMIWG+ movement. For the documentary, Kylie, alongside the Martin Sisters, performed the song “The Cradle Song” by Sharon Burch. Kylie had many other fantastic music opportunities throughout her high school career. However, one of the most memorable times for her was when she traveled to New York City and performed during New York Fashion Week during the premiere of “The Hurting Song.” During this time, Kylie performed her first composed piece alongside the Martin sisters as well. Kylie recently graduated high school, where she performed her cover of “Go My Son” as a special presentation at the 2021 Coconino High
School Graduation on June 4th, 2021. She also had the honor to give the Welcome Speech in the Navajo Language. In her downtime, Kylie enjoys listening to music and learning new covers of songs on the guitar or violin. “The K-pop band BTS is my go-to,” she says. Music allows Kylie to showcase her Navajo culture and heritage to the audience. Before she starts any song, Kylie introduces herself in the Navajo language. She’s also worn her traditional attire made by her Nalis (grandmothers) or artists she met. “I try my best to honor my culture, and I can showcase both my talent and my heritage through music,” she says. “It is a strength.” So far, Kylie has also learned well-known traditional and spiritual songs on her violin by ear. Across all of her performances and songs she’s covered, Kylie has many favorite songs to play. “It would take many days for me to choose only one,” she says. “I always enjoy playing the gospel covers I’ve learned with Al Scott and my grandpa because it always reminds me of home, who I am, and where I come from.” Kylie says those covers would be “Where We Never Grow Old,” “Seek Ye First,” “Redemption Draweth Nigh,” and “I Saw the Light.” Kylie’s love of music is remarkable. “I like how music can impact you, especially during a performance,” Kylie admits to getting so caught in the moment to a point where everything would go blank. She’d feel like she’s playing a different world, forgetting about reality and the fact that she’s playing in front of a crowd. “I think that if a song is so powerful to the point where you release yourself during the performance, I think that’s the beauty of music. I feel like music is probably one of the most beautiful ways to express yourself as a person and your personality, and most importantly, your feelings.” Music is a priority for Kylie, and she is interested in pursuing a career in music. “I’m open to new careers on the side as well,” she explains. “I try to learn as much as I can.” Kylie hopes to become a musical artist, music mentor, and a music teacher later in life. Something Kylie is looking forward to is releasing her EP soon. Kylie says music has brought nothing but positive things into her life. “I’ve met amazing people and had the chance to perform at different events,” she said. “Meeting new people and making new fans.” In addition, Kylie just recorded a song for the first time, a cover of one of Pete’s songs alongside him and Dachuneeh Martin of the Martin Sisters. Kylie credits Pete for the opportunities she’s come across. “Pete has opened the door to many opportunities.” Kylie plans on inspiring as many people as she can through music. “I plan on helping those who feel alone,” she says. “I plan on lifting the youth by motivating them to use their gifts and talents as their way to success.” Kylie hopes to use her story as motivation for the youth. “I plan on lifting the youth by motivating them to use their gifts and talents as
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Photo by Pete Sands (Diné)
their way to success. That’s what I have been doing, and look where I am now. Use it while you can.” Kylie is the future because she knows she will become someone who will guide and shine her light upon others. “I will contribute by playing my music and representing my people, my family, and most importantly, who I am. I’ve made it this far, my heart knows what it wants, and I will go get it.” Kylie believes community leaders have the power to give a spotlight
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to educate and uplift the Native youth. Leaders know what they’re capable of, and it is their choice to act on it. “Everyone needs a little push, a little encouragement, even if it’s just giving a kind message or compliment. Words are powerful and strong; use them to motivate each other and use them wisely.” Kylie says community leaders have helped her by giving her a spotlight for her voice. “Their encouragement inspires me to reach for the stars and to chase after my passion, my dream.”
Happy LGBTQ2S+ Month
We invite you to read stories of our LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit relatives we featured in our special LGBTQ2S+ issue for free: issuu.com/thenativemaxmagazine
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NATIVEMAX.SHOP celebrates creativity and culture with an online marketplace to shop Indigenous-made art, fashion, and more.
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Welcome to the Future Issue, focusing on the next generation of Native American and First Nations youth who are making their voices heard an...
Published on Jun 10, 2021
Welcome to the Future Issue, focusing on the next generation of Native American and First Nations youth who are making their voices heard an...