Eight-time Indian World barrel racing champion and 2014 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo qualifier Kassidy Dennison is the type of role model I want my future children to look up to. She delivers a humble, authentic honesty that sometimes gets lost amidst the attention that comes from having a successful career.
Dennison’s genuine compassion and awareness of her influence on the next generation of athletes both inside and outside of her Navajo community is not only expressed in her words, but her wardrobe as well. “It’s very important because I’m representing my people,” Dennison says in regards to wearing native made pieces when competing and making appearances. “I love to wear native jewelry because it’s very classic…jeans, a gray t-shirt and a squash blossom necklace is a look I really enjoy.”
Flip through the pages of a Cowgirl Magazine or scroll through Instagram and there’s a good chance that there will be an abundance of fringe, beadwork, turquoise, tribal print, and thunderbird designs, all representing some of the many Native American inspired trends. “I like the moccasins, and I like the leatherwork, the squash blossoms, and the different native patterns. I enjoy seeing them.”
While it’s very flattering seeing how native culture has inspired the mainstream fashion industry, some pieces hold the significance that when recreated and worn out of context can be very demeaning. “Women aren’t supposed to wear headdresses. Chiefs are awarded them because of what they’ve accomplished. There’s history behind them, and they’re worn for specific reasons, not for fashion shoots. It’s a sacred piece.”
Although Dennison finds the misrepresentation of headdresses “disrespectful,” she admits that she wasn’t aware of the cultural significance when they first became popular. “I went and got educated on them because I was curious about it and wanted to know what the elders thought. I don’t want the generation now to think it’s OK.”
So where does Dennison shop? Much of her collection comes from items gifted by Navajo designers such as Jolonzo Goldtooth and JT Willie, but she gets pieces from different tribes as well. “JT helps me with all of my jewelry.
That’s where I got all of my jewelry for NFR, and he let me go in and pick out a $4000-5000 squash blossom…the gifts I get are very dear to my heart.” Websites such as Etsy and eBay, pawn shops, and antique stores are also great places to shop for Native American made accessories. Keep up with Kassidy’s style and travels at: https://www.facebook.com/kassidydennisonfanpage!
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