Fashion show displays clothing by indigenous designers, celebrates Native culture

May 7, 2019

The fifth annual Barrett Indigenous Culture Association Fashion Show during American Indian Culture Week in April displayed designs from indigenous designers and featured a performance by the 2018–19 Mr. Indian ASU.

Andrea Smolsey, a junior studying molecular biosciences and biotechnology with a minor in American Indian studies, is president of the Barrett Indigenous Culture Association (BICA.) She said that she was a freshman when she first saw the show and was excited to see indigenous culture on campus.

“I didn’t even know a club like BICA existed and I’ve never seen wonderful designers like this,” Smolsey said. “It’s really nice to see these things exist and reaffirm that indigenous people are here.”

A member of the White Mountain Apache tribe, Smolsey said that events like the fashion show help to spread awareness about indigenous culture at ASU.

“The invisibility, on a big campus — you can feel that,” Smolsey said. “But to see these things celebrated and these ways and to share that with other people at ASU … it’s comforting, it’s encouraging and it’s inspiring.”

RJ Morin, a junior majoring in liberal studies, was the 2018–19 Mr. Indian ASU. As a member of the Hidatasa, Chippewa and Dakota tribes, he performed a traditional prairie chicken dance and displayed designs from his and his mother’s line, Native Stitch Originals.

“The designs that were created by my mother and myself were a way for us to express ourselves artistically,” Morin said. “To myself personally it was a way to show those around me the work that comes into not only my designs but also into how rich our culture and traditions really are.”

He said that students and other members of the ASU community have told him that they value seeing his culture displayed at the university. Morin said that events like the fashion show prompt conversations about indigenous culture and identity, which is not always easy.

“With knowing that there are [few] avenues that can open up the dialogue, these events are needed in order to create dialogue and a more comforting situation,” Morin said.