Native American Models and Their Role In Modern Fashion

Native American Models and Their Role In Modern Fashion

Things are changing for Native representation in pop culture.  With Reservation Dogs and Flowers or the Killer Moon Native stories have become main stream. 

The fashion industry has overlooked and excluded the talent of indigenous people.

But not anymore! 

The proper representation of Native American models in Vogue's magazine and shows that new doors and opportunities are opening for them.

I believe, after Quanna Chasinghorse's Vogue cover of 2021, everyone agrees that Native Americans are the “face of a new generation of models.” 

The Expanding Role of Native Americans in Fashion

Now that fashion industry fortress is opening its door to diversity. Native American models are strutting down the runway with grace, confidence, and an undeniable presence. 

In 2022 and 2023, we saw them on high-fashion magazine covers, global advertising campaigns, and international fashion weeks. Take, for example, the rise of Native American supermodel Mariah Watchman. She was the first native American model to compete on America's Next Top Model, and she's been unstoppable ever since. 

It's not just about individual success stories. The increasing representation of Native Americans is a recognition that beauty comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes. 

Native American model brings representation to fashion world | GMA

The Rising Stars – Native American Models Making Waves In Fashion:

2020 was the starting year for Native American models, and they never looked back after that. These inspiring and indigenous models now bring fresh talent and cultural richness to the fashion industry.

Let's meet some of these trailblazers!

Quannah Chasinghorse

It is a name you've probably seen lighting up your social media feeds. This Han Gwich'in and Oglala Lakota model is turning heads in fashion. Apart from her striking appearance, she is known for her activism, too. Remember the 2020 Calvin Klein campaign that emphasized the importance of voting? That was Quannah rocking it! 

If you caught a glimpse of the Met Gala, you surely would've noticed her stunning appearance in a dress adorned with traditional Native jewelry. 

Vogue magazine named her one of the best dressed for the 2024 Oscars!

The North Face Presents: Walking Two Worlds

Martin Sensmeier

Sensmeier is an outstanding fashion figure who has made a mark both as an actor and a model. Of Tlingit and Koyukon-Athabascan descent, he brings a unique blend of charisma and cultural representation to the table.

After gaining fame from his role in “The Magnificent Seven,” Sensmeier became the face of various fashion campaigns. 

Distinguished Speaker Series - Martin Sensmeier

Cara Jade Myers

Cara Jade Myers, a member of the Wichita tribe, is another name that deserves attention. She gracefully combined her heritage with contemporary fashion sensibilities. That's why her modeling journey is marked by a deep connection to her indigenous roots. 

But her work is not confined to walking the runway. She is known to bring a piece of her heritage to the forefront every time, which makes her a significant figure in promoting cultural diversity in fashion. 

Cara Jade Myers Shares Why She Almost Quit Acting in 2020 at the SAG Awards

Denali White Elk

Imagine landing a Vogue cover as your first gig – that's what Denali White Elk did!

After being discovered by IMG Models in 2020, Denali has been unstoppable. Their debut on Vogue Italia's cover was just the beginning. With a flair for embodying the spirit of modern fashion while honoring its indigenous heritage, Denali is a rising star you'll want to keep your eyes on!

Mariah Watchman

Mariah Watchman is an Umatilla tribe member who has made a lasting impression. Her participation in the popular show brought Native American representation to a mainstream audience. Mariah's journey in the fashion industry is a testament to her resilience and commitment to breaking cultural barriers.


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A post shared by @mariahwatchman

Celeste Romero

Celeste Romero is a Native American Model. The whole story is nothing short of a fairy tale. One day, she's working at In-N-Out, and the next, she's dazzling on the cover of Vogue Mexico; a dream come true! 

Her discovery from high school led to a dual life as a part-time model and restaurant worker. Finally, Celeste's hard work and dedication paid off when she walked the runway for Gabriela Hearst in New York Fashion Week. 


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A post shared by Celeste Lopez-Romero (

Challenges for Native American Models

After celebrating the rise of Native American models, now's the time to talk about something equally important. I'm talking about the challenges these amazing talents face during their fashion journey. It's not always a smooth sail, but how these modes handle fashion shenanigans is genuinely inspiring. 

One of the biggest challenges our Native American models face is the persistent stereotypes. Like many other industries, the fashion world often has a narrow view of what a model should look like. Undoubtedly, Native American models are shattering these stereotypes, but it's not without struggles. 

Now, this is a big one – cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation. When non-Native designers use elements of Native American culture without understanding, that's appropriation, and it's a real problem.

 On the contrary, Native American models advocate for their cultures and ensure their heritage is represented authentically and respectfully. This challenge is more of a might for cultural integrity in an industry that often blurs the lines!

The Future of Native American Talent in Fashion

Native American Models' appearances on Vogue covers and Fashion Week testify to their successful journey in the fashion world. Here's what I think about their exhilarating future in fashion:

A More Inclusive Runway

With each step Native American models take on the runway, they're opening doors for more diversity in the industry. We're moving towards a fashion world where every culture and background is celebrated, not just as a trend but as an integral part of the industry. This inclusivity is something that we can all look forward to!

What's truly inspiring is the role these models play beyond the runway. They're becoming role models, advocates, and spokespersons for their communities. They empower others to do the same by embracing their identity and heritage. The future of fashion is not just about what you wear; it's about wearing it with pride and purpose. 

Imagine fashion where cultural richness is the norm, not the exception. Native American models are bringing their heritage to the forefront. The blend of old elements and modern designs sets the stage for a vibrant, culturally rich fashion future. 

Native American models are the next superstars of the fashion industry. Their achievements and ideal representation are a true testament to their bright future.

Last Updated on March 22, 2024 by Paul G

About Paul G

Paul G is the founder, who wears many hats as a business coach, photographer, and collector of quirky shirts. Paul started in 1996 while pursuing his graduate degree. With a passion for travel, he and his family hav  traveled the world, capturing unforgettable memories and photos. When he's not coaching or clicking, he's indulging in the magic of Disney.

4 Comments on “Native American Models and Their Role In Modern Fashion”

  • Avatar for David Birmingham

    David Birmingham


    Your newest link in the contest is dead; but does credit points.

    Hmmm… can’t reach this took too long to respond

    • Avatar for Paul G

      Paul G


      Thanks, it is fixed now.

  • Avatar for e



    I am somewhat surprised that you did not comment on what Dr. Jacob Weasel did last May. He was the first Native American to CLIMB MOUNT EVEREST. He is a medical doctor by profession but also an avid mountain climber. A few statistics on Everest–it is not only the highest but is one of only 14 mountains over 8000 meters in height. (Three of these–Lhotse, Kangchenjunga and Broad Peak have multiple summits).Climbing at that altitude is extremely dangerous and difficult due to thin air, horrible weather, frequent avalanches and rockfalls, and falls into crevasses.

    Note 8000 meters=26,247 feet.

    • Avatar for Paul G

      Paul G


      I hadn’t heard about him. I’ll go look into it!

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