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Saturday, December 4, 2021

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Holmes will be on campus Nov. 6. Holmes will be on campus Nov. 6.

Honoring Tradition in a Contemporary World

Kelly Holmes, founder of the first-ever Native American fashion magazine, will share her experiences as a Lakota woman in the world of journalism.
By Mallory Black

Imagine what it takes to start and run your own fashion magazine — now imagine trying start it all at the age of 16.

Now 24, Kelly Holmes, a Lakota woman from South Dakota's Cheyenne River Reservation, manages to do it all with Native Max, the first Native American fashion magazine. As part of the university’s One SDSU Community initiative and co-sponsored by SDSU’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, Holmes will share her story representing the intersection of her Native identity, fashion and media from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6 in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union Theatre.

“I feel like all the milestones in my life have led to Native Max,” Holmes said. “I wanted to create something for young aspiring Native models, photographers and writers that would give them a chance to discover their talents, something that was absent when I was a teen.”

As founder of Native Max, Holmes is on a mission to produce empowering and culturally relevant content for Native communities and beyond, inviting the world to discover authentic indigenous lifestyle and culture of the 21st century.

A new era of journalism

Today, Holmes serves as Native Max’s editor-in-chief, creative director, designer, publicist, stylist and one of its main writers and models. Every staff writer, contributor and photographer on the Native Max team is Native American or a member of Canada’s First Nations, an intentional move made by Holmes to give Native media professionals a space to thrive.

“Native people don’t have many outlets to showcase their talents,” Holmes said. “Since the beginning, having a Native American publication with a Native American team behind it was something that was important to me.”

Bey-Ling Sha, professor and director of SDSU’s School of Journalism and Media Studies, said Holmes' career reflects the evolution of journalism where both media consumers and producers are expected to be fluent across all media platforms, an age media scholars call “transmedia.”

“The thing about Kelly is that she has really been able to use new media to reinforce her identity as a Native American,” Sha said. “Historically in this country, different peoples’ identities have been marginalized and disrespected, and now what we see happening around the world is media becoming a voice for the voiceless. It’s interesting to see Kelly use these different platforms to assert her identity as Native American and as a woman.”

Contemporary Native America

While showcasing Native talent, Holmes also intended for Native Max to serve as a vehicle to educate others about Native American stereotypes and cultural appropriation in popular fashion and media.

David Kamper, chair of the SDSU’s Department of American Indian Studies  and faculty advisor of the Elymash Yuuchaap Indigenous Scholars and Leaders Program, said speakers like Holmes are valuable because they can talk about contemporary Native culture and counteract the way American culture has conventionally portrayed Native people.

"Students tend to be most interested in people who are doing things about topics like fashion and media who meet young adults where they are — people who engage in popular culture in a way that also expresses their own Native identity,” Kamper said. “Her visit is also timely given the conversations we’re having about Native cultural appropriation both inside and outside of the fashion world."

Prior to her presentation on Friday afternoon, Holmes will be available to meet and speak with students near the Aztec Student Union Theatre. For more information about One SDSU Community programs and speakers, visit the One SDSU Community website.