Quannah Chasinghorse, who is Hän Gwich’in and Sicangu Oglala Lakota, looks regal on the recent cover of ELLE magazine. She is iced out in Dolce & Gabbana Alta Gioielleria earrings, necklace and tiara, wearing a black Dolce & Gabbana blazer with a white bustier underneath. Her hand-poked Yidįįłtoo on her chin and around her eyes looks stunning. 

This cover comes just seven months after being featured on the cover of Vogue Mexico’s May issue. Over the past year, Chasinghorse has made huge strides in the fashion industry becoming the first Indigneous woman to walk for Chanel. She also attended the 2021 Met Gala and has walked the runway for Chloé, Savage x Fenty, Gabriela Hearst, and Prabal Gurung. So much has happened in just one year. 

The 19-year-old model was signed to IMG, a renowned modeling agency, in December of 2020. (IMG has also signed models like Tyra Banks, Kate Moss, and Gisele Bündchen.) This after amassing a large social media following through her activism work, which she is most known for. 

Want more Native News? Get the free daily newsletter today.

As she talks about in both Vogue Mexico and ELLE, being a land protector is one of, if not the, most important part of her life. Coming from a long line of fierce and powerful matriarchs, she is a fourth-generation land protector of her Hän Gwich’in homelands located in what is now called Alaska. 

Chasinghorse, and her mother Jody Potts-Joseph have been strong advocates for protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge home to 200,000 porcupine caribou that could be threatened by the ongoing oil and gas development. 

In her ELLE interview with Indigenous author Terese Marie Mailhot, Chasinghorse describes a tear-jerking moment where a herd of caribou surrounded the truck her family was using to transport her late uncle to his final resting place in their home village. That night her family got three caribou and it was Chasinghorse’s first one, a rite of passage for a Hän Gwich’in woman and practice she is reclaiming. She was honored to be able to feed her village.  

During the 45th presidential administration, the 1.57 million acres of refuge were opened up to allow oil and gas companies to begin drilling — this in an area that has become known as ground-zero for climate change, where temperatures are rising at double the rate as anywhere else in the country. The melting ice caps are pushing Indigenous communities in Alaska further inland. Bringing awareness to climate change and ushering in change to help save her homelands is the focus of her work.

But it doesn’t stop there. She is also reclaiming parts of her culture that were demonized and banned by Christian missionaries. At 14, she received her first Yidįįłtoo. It was three hand-poked vertical lines that went down her chin and was done by her mother Jody to mark her passage in womanhood. The Yidįįłtoo is usually done between the ages of 12 and 14.

In a personal poem she shared with Teen Vogue in September 2020, Chasinghorse read, “I’m from the beaded moose hide in modern clothes, from the smell of sage and taste of fry bread. I am from the fireweed trails. From the birch trees I used to climb, whose limbs I remember as though they were my own. I’m from the mushing, hunting, fishing, and berry picking trips, from the family of traditions. I'm from the potlatches and the legends our elders tell.”

This is why she has become so embraced and celebrated by Indigenous people from across the US. She is proudly Indigenous in every space she occupies, whether it’s wearing turquoise to the Met Gala or sharing the rich history of Yidįįłtoo or speaking on climate change that so deeply impacts her community. Chasinghorse brings her whole being, history and people wherever she goes. 

Read her full ELLE interview by Terese Marie Mailhot here.

More Stories Like This

Five More Native Americans Who Shaped Culture
Producers of Jim Thorpe Movie Select Mohawk Citizen Tracey Deer to Direct Film
Five Native Americans Who Shaped American Culture
Native American Music Awards Moved to Monday Night Due to Snowstorm
Here’s What’s Going on in Indian Country: Nov. 19-Nov.24

You’re reading the first draft of history. 

November is  Native American Heritage Month in the United States. We feel like every month — and every day — is a reason for celebrating Native Americans and our heritage. That’s what we try to do here at Native News Online, with stories each day that celebrate, inform and uplift American Indian and Alaska Native people. Over the past year or so, we have been especially busy with three important reporting projects that are having an impact across Indian Country:

  • Indian Boarding Schools. We’ve reported and published more than 150 stories and special live stream video events to help shine a light on the dark era of boarding schools — and help create momentum for change.
  • Native Health Desk. Launched in January, this reporting initiative was created to heighten awareness of Native American health inequities and spotlight pockets of progress in Indian Country. So far we’ve reported and published nearly 120 stories and launched a monthly health newsletter that reaches more than 23,000 readers.  
  • Native Bidaske. In March, we launched this live stream interview program to highlight the work of Native Americans who are making news and leading change in Indian Country.  We have hosted guests from the federal government and Native rights advocates as well as Indigenous actors, comedians, journalists and models.   

We hope you will join us in celebrating Native American heritage and history this November and invite you to consider the old adage that “Journalism is the first draft of history.” If you appreciate the voice Native News Online gives to Native American people, we hope you will support our work with a donation so we can build our newsroom and continue to amplify Native voices and Native perspectives.

Any contribution — big or small — helps us remain a force for change in Indian Country and continue telling the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.  Most often, our donors make a one-time gift of $20 or more, while many choose to make a recurring monthly donation of $5 or $10.  Whatever you can do, it helps fund our Indigenous-led newsroom and our ability to cover Native news. 

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Pauly Denetclaw
Author: Pauly DenetclawEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Pauly Denetclaw is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and from Manuelito, N.M. She is Haltsooí (Meadow People) born for Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House People). Denetclaw is an award-winning reporter who has worked for the Navajo Times and Texas Observer covering Indigenous communities. She is a board member for the Native American Journalist Association. Her radio pieces have aired on National Native News, NPR’s Latino USA and Texas Public Radio. She has been published in Condé Nast Traveler, Indian Country Today and The Nation. She has been a consultant for the This Land and The Experiment podcasts. She loves trying new coffee blends, the color pink, bullet journaling and listening to Jack Harlow. Follow her on Twitter, @pdineclah.