Meet Quannah Chasinghorse, the model and activist promoting Indigenous fashion

The fashion industry has long been criticized for a lack of diversity in all areas from race and ethnicity to size and age. 

Little by little, the sartorial world is changing as those once perceived as outsiders demand a seat at the table. Quannah Chasinghorse is an Indigenous model transforming the fashion industry from the inside out. The fresh face unapologetically celebrates her Native American roots and is using her platform to advocate for issues like climate change, Indigenous rights and diversity. 

Who is Quannah Chasinghorse? 

Chasinghorse is an Indigenous model. Her mother is Hän Gwich’in, from Alaska, while her father is Oglala Lakota, from South Dakota. 

Chasinghorse was born on June 7, 2002 in Tuba City, Ariz. She grew up in Arizona, Mongolia and New Mexico before moving to Alaska, where her mother is from, at 6 years old. 

While living in Fairbanks, Alaska, at 19 years old, Chasinghorse was selected to appear in a 2020 Calvin Klein campaign to increase voter turnout. Just months later, she signed with IMG models. She has 276,000 Instagram followers. 

Her breakout moment was bittersweet 

Native Americans were rarely centered in fashion when Chasinghorse was growing up — and not much has changed since. The model went viral at the 2021 Met Gala for her Navajo-inspired outfit. The theme was American fashion, but she was one of only a handful of Indigenous people at the event. 

“No one knew me. No one cared to ask,” Chasinghorse told Insider. “People are there for themselves and it shows.”

She has traditional Hän Gwich’in tattoos

While models have been told they should be a blank canvas, Chasinghorse is rightfully challenging norms. She has Yidįįłtoo, stunning face tattoos hand-poked by her mother. Each one celebrates a milestone in her life. 

“The lines represent overcoming generational and personal traumas,” Chasinghorse told Vogue. “To be able to bring [the tattoos] back is a powerful thing — you feel empowered knowing that you’re carrying on a tradition that was meant to be erased.”

She’s an activist 

Before Chasinghorse was known for modeling she had amassed a social media following as an activist. She is an advocate for Indigenous land rights and conserving Alaska’s Arctic National Refuge where fossil fuel extraction has endangered the area for years. Chasinghorse has spoken at and attended numerous rallies and events supporting the causes she cares about. 

She is the first Indigenous model to be featured by Chanel 

“I was obsessed with watching runway shows on television — Dior, Chanel, Prada — and I was always posing for pictures,” Chasinghorse told Vogue, but due to a lack of inclusivity, “it was really hard for me to feel like I had the potential to be a model.”

Chasinghorse has since become the first Indigenous model in a Chanel campaign. 

“As the first indigenous model to be included and uplifted by Chanel, I am so honored and thankful for this opportunity. Again, MAHSI’CHOO to everyone that was a part of this,” Chasinghorse wrote in a caption. 

More from In The Know:

Navajo 'skinwalker' legend gains massive popularity on TikTok

Textile artist Naiomi Glasses brings Gen Z visibility to the Navajo Nation

The Jingle Dress Project brings healing through Indigenous dance

Mom recites 'uplifting' poem to daughter about loving her brown eyes

Listen to the latest episode of our pop culture podcast, We Should Talk: