ROCKY BOY — The “Honor Our Legacy” fashion show, has been spearheading indigenous fashion around the country, and it’s in its 7th year being held, the fourth time at Northern Winz casino on the Rocky Boy reservation.
“The designers and the models that all come here, all Native American. So, it's just good to see my people doing something good,” says runway model, Rilee Ahenakew.
For the models, though some of them have competed in several events just like this one, the jitters never go away.
“Before I go out on the runway, I kind of have to shake the jitters out. And when you get on the runway, I have to block everything out because tons of people are looking at you,” says model, Shenoa Jones.
“It's amazing to see my community out there supporting me and like these other women and men. But I’m also a little bit nervous because it's just like if you're going to be out in front of so many people. But like I said, when you get out there, it's an amazing experience,” says Ahenakew.
But the feeling post-competition is unlike much else.
“The adrenaline after is like walking on a cloud all night. Just kind of skip out of there. I just love the energy it gives you,” says model, Leiloni Hugs.
Though the models take center stage, it’s their designers who help them shine. designers like Lisa Redford, Yolanda Old Dwarf, and Sherleen Yellowhair.
“I really like to empower people and sometimes you get somebody who's not real sure, you know, this is their first show. They maybe lack a little confidence. So you see that when they put something on you kind of empower them to give them confidence,” says fashion designer, Lisa Redford.
“I love the atmosphere. I love that my models feel beautiful wearing my stuff. I get to take something that I created that started in my mind, started by inspiration, and now it's physically being worn by somebody,” says designer Yolanda Old Dwarf.
And indigenous fashion is made with more than just handcrafted precision.
“A lot of the clothing come with prayer songs and stories with them. But to be able to bring those to life on the runway, I think it makes it more genuine and it makes it more heartfelt, especially for the designers,” says Jones.
“On our reservations, there's not a whole lot of variety of things that they can do. It's very important, to lead our children into doing something that they not a lot of times realize are there, that they're capable of doing things and then being exposed,” says designer Sherleen Yellowhair.