Native Village 
Youth and Education News

November, 2012

Native American fashion magazine launches online
Condensed by Native Village


South Dakota: Growing up on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, Kelly Holmes spent hours thumbing through fashion magazines. However, the models didn't look anything like her, most stories didn't relate to reservation life, and high-end retailers were hundreds of miles away.

So Holmes set out to create her own fashion magazine for Native American men, women and non-Natives who want to learn about the culture.

Native Max Magazine focuses on indigenous people, places and cultures. It has the same sleek photography of fashion magazines without the  fashion stereotypes of mainstream media.

"There's really no magazine, a Native-owned and operated, Native-designed magazine," said Holmes, 21, who now lives in Denver. "There's nothing like this magazine out there.

"The ones that do have stuff focused on younger people, they're really vulgar and very revealing,"

Mariah Watchman is gorgeous on Native Max's first magazine cover. Mariah catapulted to fame after becoming the first Native American woman to compete on "America's Next Top Model." She is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in Oregon.

Besides fashion, Native Max interviews Native artists, musicians, and designers and offers sections on health, beauty and sports. And while Native Max is positive and uplifting, it is not afraid to tackle controversial topics. The première issue features an interview women who helped create the Save Wiyabe Project.  Save Wiyabe addresses violence against Native American women. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates 33% of Native women will be raped and 25% will be physically assaulted.

Rhonda LeValdo is a professor at Haskell Indian Nations University and president of the Native American Journalists Association. She says Native-focused media shows that Native Americans are regular people, too.

"They want to be models, movie stars, artists. I think that's showing the regular side as opposed to that stereotype of just showing us in our dance regalia," she said.

The magazine's nine staff members come from all over North America, including the Navajo Nation in Arizona and the Otomi and Yaqui nations in Mexico.  Angelica Gallegos, 20, has enjoyed learning about new and up and coming Native American artists and musicians.

"I like how we want to involve a lot of people in the community and get ideas from them," said Gallegos, a member of the Santa Ana Pueblo and Jicarilla Apache tribes. "I also like the aspect of getting to know different artists and Native people around the country and how they're contributing to their people in different ways."

LeValdo said it's imperative for any new publication to have financial backing to survive. A few years ago, one of her students started a Native American music magazine but was only able to put out two issues before it folded.

Holmes is searching for grants and investors but so far has had no luck. She has invested about $1,000 of her own money to get started and hopes that advertising and sales will keep it afloat.  Beginning in December, the quarterly magazine will switch to a print-only format. Each issue will cost $10.00

Holmes hopes to gain subscribers by holding fashion events across the country. She said the obstacles haven't tarnished her dream of having her own magazine for Native Americans.

"There are Natives out there who are talented," she said. "... I want it to be inspirational and to show to others, 'Hey, there is someone out there doing the same thing as me."



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