Of Another Fashion

An alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color

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This is my great grandmother, Ekaterina Kvasnikoff, taken in Skagway, Alaska in the 1920s. My grandmother said she was a good-natured, strong, outgoing person and a great storyteller. She was Aleut, born in Ninilchik, Alaska. For generations, she and her people were baptized into the Russian Orthodox faith, hence the Russian name. I think she’s wearing a Russian style hat that was popular at the time.

Submitted by R.T.B. (Western Washington State)

This is a makeshift beauty salon at the Japanese American internment camp called Camp Amache or Granada Relocation Center in Colorado. Like many other internment camps, Camp Amache was built on an Indian reservation. In other words, the government’s forcible relocation of 120,000 Japanese American citizens and legal residents from the West Coast depended in great measure on the displacement of Native Americans from the interior U.S. (The Poston camp in Arizona was overseen by the Office of Indian Affairs, now the Bureau of Indian Affairs.) World War II is just one of the many moments in U.S. history in which Asian American and Native American histories are mutually shaped and deeply interconnected.

The film Passing Poston: An American Story (on the Poston internment camp in Arizona) explores the cross-genealogies of Japanese American and Native American histories a bit.

Jessica Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) was kind of enough to send me the entire six-page pamphlet released by the Department of the Interior in the 1970s featuring fashions from the eponymous label of designer Remonia Jacobsen (Otoe and Iowa Indian).

For one month in the spring of 1977, the Museum of the Plains Indian and Crafts Center in Browning, Montana held a special exhibition of the fashions of Jewel Salois Gilham, a member of the Blackfeet Indian tribe. This is a pamphlet from the exhibition. (Donated from the personal archive of Jessica Metcalfe.)

This photograph is from a 1977 fashion show by students in the Traditional Techniques course at the Institute of American Indian Arts (Photo from the IAIA Archives). The dress that the girl is wearing is a modern adaptation inspired by woodlands Indian floral beadwork.

Submitted by Jessica Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) of Santa Fe, NM.

This image is from a pamphlet released by the Department of the Interior in the 1970s featuring fashions from the eponymous label of designer Remonia Jacobsen (Otoe and Iowa Indian). Monkapeme is Jacobsen’s Indian name.

Many thanks to Jessica Metcalfe (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) for cluing me in on this designer and label.

This is one of my favorite photographs from Margaret Wood’s Native American Fashion: Modern Adaptations of Traditional Designs (Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1981). Here, the model is wearing a modern adaptation of a 19th century Navajo “Bil” or “Tilma” dress traditionally made of woven wool material.