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Fashioning the look of American Indians' past, present

Students showcase traditional and contemporary clothing styles

 by Allison Denny
 published on Thursday, April 17, 2008

<b>ALL SMILES:</b> Miss Navajo Nation Princess Kendra Redhouse (left) and Miss Indian Arizona Evereta Thinn perform traditional dances with students and spectators during the American Indian Councilís fashion show on Hayden Lawn Wednesday. The event was hosted by Alpha Pi Omega and is part of ASUís 2008 Culture Week./issues/news/704817
Lindy Mapes / THE STATE PRESS
ALL SMILES: Miss Navajo Nation Princess Kendra Redhouse (left) and Miss Indian Arizona Evereta Thinn perform traditional dances with students and spectators during the American Indian Councilís fashion show on Hayden Lawn Wednesday. The event was hosted by Alpha Pi Omega and is part of ASUís 2008 Culture Week.
 
<b>CULTURAL CLOTHING:</b>  Miss Navajo Nation Princess Kendra Redhouse models American Indian fashions during the American Indian Councilís fashion show on Hayden Lawn Wednesday. /issues/news/704817
Lindy Mapes / THE STATE PRESS
CULTURAL CLOTHING: Miss Navajo Nation Princess Kendra Redhouse models American Indian fashions during the American Indian Councilís fashion show on Hayden Lawn Wednesday.
 

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For Navajo student Shayne Watson, fashion design isn't just an outlet for his creativity; it's a way to explore his culture.

The art education senior's designs were featured on Hayden Lawn Wednesday afternoon as part of Culture Week, presented by ASU's American Indian Council.

Council groups put together events for each day this week to celebrate different aspects of American Indian culture, culminating in a traditional pow-wow Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the ASU Band Practice Field on East 6th Street and South Rural Road.

Alpha Pi Omega ó the only American Indian sorority on campus ó sponsored the fashion show.

The group led the showcase of traditional garb, a frybread sale and American Indian singers and dancers.

Alpha Pi Omega President Deidre Greyeyes said the show was meant to teach people from other cultures how important clothing is to American Indian culture.

And most people don't recognize how different traditional clothing is among tribes, said Greyeyes, a kinesiology senior.

"A lot of people think we all wear headdresses," she said. "We want to give people the idea that we don't wear these things every day, but we do wear them for ceremonial purposes," she said.

Watson said he has been designing clothes for about five years in the traditional way his grandmother taught him.

"It's just always been a passion of mine," he said.

The 13 outfits Watson made for the show are a mix of traditional ceremonial pieces and more contemporary pieces.

The fabrics and patterns of Watson's pieces reflected traditional aspects of his culture, while some of the cuts fit closer with mainstream fashion ó ranging from a traditional pow-wow outfit with a dancing shawl to a velvet halter-top and jeans.

Watson said that his blending of traditional clothing with contemporary styles helps people see that, while American Indians are still deeply rooted in their culture, that's not all they're about.

"People stereotype Native Americans," he said. "They still think we live in teepees."

Elementary education freshman Demetria Morgan wore one of the more traditional pieces in the show.

The cohesion between students from different tribes made the show even better, Morgan added.

"It's really beneficial to us and to other people to see how we come together to celebrate," she said.

English literature senior Seth Tendler was drawn in by the frybread and stayed to watch the singing and dancing.

The event was a great way to showcase the diversity within ASU's campus, Tendler said.

"It shows the true culture of Arizona," he said.

Reach the reporter at: allison.denny@asu.edu.



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