Twenty-one-year-old Kelly Holmes, who grew up on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, has started Native Max, a fashion/style publication for Native American men and women — and non-Native Americans who want to learn about the culture. "There's really no magazine, a Native-owned and operated, Native-designed magazine. There's nothing like this magazine out there," Holmes tells the AP.
Native Americans have been in the news lately, and the stories have been rather negative: even though the Comanche Nation adopted Johnny Depp, Lone Ranger is plagued by accusations of redface. Paul Frank threw a party and called it a pow wow. The Navajo Nation sued Urban Outfitters for calling panties and flasks Navajo. ("Navajo is a people, not a pattern," explains intellectual property expert professor Susan Scafidi.) Earlier this month, ASOS was selling "navajo" stuff clearly not made by the Navajo Nation. But Native Max is participating in a positive narrative about Native Americans: The magazine's staff members come from all over North America, and, as the AP puts it:
Native Max focuses on indigenous people, places and cultures with the same sleek photography found in fashion magazines but without the stereotypical headdresses and tomahawks sometimes seen in the mainstream media.
It's true: Right now it's "hip" to sell "tribal" prints, fashion shoots very often include appropriation of Native American culture (just put the words feather headdress into Pinterest if you have any doubts), and a singer will wear a warbonnet in a music video because it looks cool. But rarely do we have the opportunity to hear from actual living and breathing Native Americans, declaring what they find fashionable. Because lest we forget: An ethnicity is not a trend, despite the fact that there are "navajo" hoodies for sale. Hopefully Native Max, a real fashion effort from real Native Americans, gets attention… as well as the funding it needs to stay in business — the AP reports that Holmes has been searching for grants and investors, without any luck. Weird, since Native American is so hot right now.