Outspoken Indigenous beauty Quannah Chasinghorse shines as an American original.

True Grit

Stunning and strong, Indigenous model and activist Quannah Chasinghorse is redefining American beauty. Dubbed one of fashion’s freshest new faces, Quannah embraces her unique ancestry, which includes the Raven Clan of the Hän Gwich’in from Alaska and Native American Oglala Lakota from South Dakota.

The 19-year-old trailblazer, who was born in Navajo Nation territory in Arizona and has lived in Alaska for more than a decade, wowed A-listers and fans alike at last fall’s Met Gala. She walked the red carpet clad in a glimmering gold gown by Peter Dundas for Revolve and Navajo turquoise jewelry from her “aunty” Jocelyn Billy-Upshaw, who was crowned Miss Navajo Nation in 2006. Considered the badass breakout star of the evening, Quannah was praised on social media for her exquisite embodiment of the event’s theme: “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion.”

Quannah Chasinghorse at 2021 Met Gala, NYC
(Photo by Taylor Hill/WireImage)

Her glowing looks were also accentuated by her attention-grabbing ink — the lines extending down her chin and trailing from the corners of her expressive eyes are traditional Hän Gwich’in hand-poked tattoos called Yidįįłtoo.

She says of her tattoos, “They make me feel more confident because I’m carrying a part of my ancestors that was almost completely lost” due to colonization.

Quannah explains the middle line on her chin was “all about becoming a woman.”

She adds in her culture, “When someone steps into her womanhood, she is now able to give birth, get married and start taking on more responsibilities. With that comes a ceremony; we always hold a ceremony when we do traditional tattoos. It was such a powerful experience. When I got the tattoo, I really felt myself connecting to a deeper part of myself.”

Quannah says her tattoos are “a great reminder of who I am, the powerful meaning, how far I’ve come, where I come from and how resilient and strong my people, my bloodline and my ancestors are.”

Before she attended the high-profile New York City bash — and graced the cover of Vogue Mexico with her nose ring and Alaska Native earrings — Fairbanks-based Quannah used her voice to advocate for conservation of her state’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which has been threatened by fossil fuel extraction.

With nearly 250,000 followers on her Instagram account @quannah.rose, her social media platform reflects her concern for the environment and her devotion to causes she holds dear, and Quannah says, “I grew up seeing my mom work so hard for her people — she taught me that there’s no shame in speaking up.”

Quannah says her mother also taught her and her brothers “how to hunt, fish, chop wood, and took us berry picking,” and the family “had our own snare line and trapline. We even had a dog team, and when it would get too cold to where the vehicle wouldn’t start, my mom would drop us off by dog team.”

But a hunger for activism has remained ever present in her life and was even the springboard for her modeling debut in a 2020 Calvin Klein campaign that emphasized the importance of voting — a gig that led to her being signed by powerhouse agency IMG Models.

However, her very presence in the world of high fashion is its own form of activism, a fact that doesn’t escape intuitive Quannah. She admits in her youth, “I was obsessed with watching runway shows on television — Dior, Chanel, Prada — and I was always posing for pictures.” But she says a lack of representation made it “really hard” for her to feel like she had the potential to be a model.

“I never grew up feeling confident because of the negative stereotypes of Native Americans,” says Quannah. “But that’s changing. Today, younger generations are going to be able to witness Indigenous excellence on the cover of magazines — and hopefully everywhere.”

Firmly grounded in her beliefs, unafraid to speak her mind and exuding a confidence that only enhances her natural beauty makes Quannah our quintessential woman of the moment.

Should you wish to put your money where her mouth is, we are certain that anything you can do for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would make her very happy. She’s not going to be dropping by for dinner just because you helped, but we all do our part – or at least that would be a worthy goal.

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