As the spotlight shone on Romig Middle School’s stage, a unique and vibrant display unfolded during the Anchorage School District’s third annual Indigenous Fashion Show. Students paraded in beaver mitts, seal gloves, beaded headdresses, mukluks, and dance fans, showcasing the rich cultural diversity that defines Alaska’s Indigenous heritage. Indigenous fashion lights up runway at Anchorage School District show.
Avery Evanoff, a 14-year-old student from Goldenview Middle School, graced the stage in a blue qaspeq, fish-skin earrings, and a beaded headdress—all treasures bestowed upon her by her grandmother. For Avery, participating in the fashion show was more than a showcase of attire; it was a celebration of her Unangax̂ and Aleut heritage, a connection to a scattered family across the Aleutian chain and Bristol Bay.
“Growing up in the city, you don’t get a lot of opportunities like this. It’s just nice to be able to show what is special to me about how I grew up,” she expressed, highlighting the significance of the event as a platform for cultural expression.
Mo Spooner, a 16-year-old junior at East High School of Sugpiaq descent, donned a snow-falling parka—a regalia worn by Alutiiq dancers during celebratory dances. For Mo, the fashion show represented more than just a display of traditional clothing; it was about revitalizing cultural practices suppressed in previous generations.
“It’s about practicing all the traditions that generations before us weren’t allowed to do, and were silenced for,” he emphasized. “I think it’s beautiful to practice these traditions for those who couldn’t.”
The event’s coordination was spearheaded by staff who aimed to instill a sense of pride in the students for their cultural identities. Diana Boggess, a cultural immersion specialist with the district and Siberian Yup’ik, expressed the importance of empowering students to step into the spotlight and take pride in their heritage.
The fashion show is part of a broader initiative by the district’s Indigenous Education department to create more opportunities for cultural celebration, particularly around regalia. Helena Batman, the department’s director, highlighted the importance of such events in fostering cultural pride among students.
“I have been a wallflower my whole life. What we’re trying to do is empower students to take that risk, to be seen, to take that initiative,” said Boggess.
This celebration of culture is not limited to the fashion show alone; it aligns with recent changes in district policies. Responding to advocacy by students and families, the Anchorage School District adjusted its policy around graduation attire. Last year, students were allowed to wear traditional regalia instead of a cap and gown, a significant shift from the district’s previous requirement of pre-approval for such attire.
As part of a continued effort, the district is hosting regalia-making workshops at schools to further empower students and provide them with opportunities to wear traditional regalia with pride. The Indigenous Student Fashion Show serves as a shining example of how education and cultural celebration can come together to enrich the lives of students and foster a sense of pride in their heritage.
NICC = National Indigenous Cultural Centre – works with Walkabout Australia – we give you indigenous products, indigenous music, aboriginal art – news (we are your indigenous home… (IF you want bush tucker food at your next event / if you want indigenous entertainment at your party / expo / conference; if you want an indigenous gift shop / if you want walkabout australia merchandise = contact us… = https://nicc.org.au (AND = https://www.facebook.com/WalkaboutAustraliaIF you want some indigenous food at your event, expo, conference / party = do you want indigenous / aboriginal entertainment at your function – digeridoo, or indigenous dance, aboriginal gift shop OR = we can tailor a solution for your event (for a few hours or a few days / in a regional town of in the major conference centre. What indigenous food, music, fashion, gift shop – what aboriginal theme do you seek?…