Indigenous model and activist Quannah Chasinghorse stole the show at the 2021 Met Gala.
Bringing together a-list public figures, artists, and politicians the Met Gala aims to raise funds for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. With this year’s theme being ‘In America’, stars paid homage to nation.
The stand-out of the evening was 19-year-old Quannah Chasinghorse, wearing gold cut-out gown by Peter Dundas for Revolve and traditional Navajo turquoise jewellery.
Chasinghorse has cultural ties to Canada and Alaska and South Dakota, being a Hän Gwich’in and Native American Oglala Lakota woman.
“Words can’t describe my gratitude to those who made it possible for me to attend my first Met Gala,” Chasinghorse said on Instagram.
Chasinghorse was draped in traditional Navajo turquoise jewellery gifted to her by Jocelyn Billy-Upshaw, her Aunty and former Miss Navajo Nation.
“A huge special thanks to my Aunty Jocelyn Billy-Upshaw, former Miss Navajo Nation, let me borrow her turquoise jewellery to wear with the dress,” she said.
Her subtle makeup, done by makeup artists Gucci Westman, complimented her traditional face tattoos.
Yidįįłtoo, the hand-poked tattoos, symbolise significant life events. In an interview with Vogue Chasinghorse described the markings as representations of “overcoming generational and personal traumas”.
In thinking with the theme of the event, Chasinghorse used her Met Gala appearance as an opportunity to show “true (native) American ‘culture’”.
“I did not celebrate American independence (nor will I ever), I celebrated my Indigenous bloodlines coursing through my veins … and sacred to my heart because over and over again my people fought genocide and WE ARE STILL HERE!”
“The turquoise represents protection, guidance and love. All of which I felt walking the red carpet with the spirit of my ancestors walking with me.
“Truly is an empowering feeling knowing that my presence brings much needed visibility to indigenous beauty, fashion, art, and our communities, along with many of the things we face as a collective.”
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A staunch activist, Chasinghorse was both the Spirit of Youth Award recipient in 2020 and 2021 The Women In Green Forum Youth Trailblazer.
She played a key role in the 2020 Native Vote campaign and pushed for the passing of bill JR 1146 in 2019, which protects the Artic Refuge from oil drilling.
The Artic Refuge for Gwich’in people is known as ‘The Sacred Place Where Life Begins’.
By Rachael Knowles