MHA Nation woman featured in Vogue Magazine
BISMARCK — When Lauren Good Day created her latest clothing line titled "Matriarch," she said it was all for her daughter.
She sewed prayers and good thoughts into the beading and stitchwork, all the while knowing her daughter would grow up one day to become a leader within her family and her tribe.
Thoughts like these go into all of Good Day's artwork, which may be why her clothing line has gained nationwide recognition and snagged the attention of Vogue Magazine, which wrote an article about her earlier this month.
Good Day is a cultural artist and member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation. Her time growing up on North Dakota's Fort Berthold Indian Reservation has encouraged her to showcase her heritage on a grand stage.
Tribal values, traditional patterns and beading go into all of Good Day's clothing lines, but with "Matriarch," she said she wanted to intertwine elements of her heritage with ready-to-wear garments, which are often cheaper to produce and easier to wear than traditional garments.
"How often is anyone from North Dakota in Vogue?" Good Day questioned jokingly. "It made me really happy and proud for my people."
For her clothing line, all of her models were from the MHA Nation, as was the photographer.
Jayli Fimbres, one of the MHA Nation models who worked with Good Day, said it felt good to showcase clothes that represented her people.
"It was a huge self-esteem booster, and to actually feel beautiful on the outside — it was a whole new side of myself that I never knew I could be," Fimbres said. "It feels like you're wearing something with meaning."'
Good Day said she often gets questions from non-Natives on whether they can wear her clothes in fear that it could be cultural appropriation, but Good Day said that non-Natives wearing her designs is actually a celebration of her culture.
"I call it cultural appreciation versus cultural appropriation, so they're culturally appreciating authentic, Indigenous artwork straight from the artist," Good Day said. "I always say that they're welcome ... because they're showing appreciation for the culture that was here previous to non-Natives coming to America."
Good Day's cousin, Jocy Bird, said they have been dancing together in ceremonies and powwows all of their lives, and it is great to see the clothing they traditionally wear represented in a more modern way.
"It allows more Natives to represent our designs and then also for non-Natives to just appreciate and then see our culture."
Good Day said that she created the clothes to highlight the beauty of the people and land of the MHA Nation.
Fimbres said she was honored to have been chosen to model for Good Day's brand and is proud to wear her clothes.
"We are often misrepresented, so it felt really good to see us represented well," Fimbres said.
Good Day said she encourages people to engage with art created by Indigenous people, because it shows appreciation for their culture and history.
Michelle Griffith, a Report For America corps member, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.