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Contribution to Book
Designing, Producing and Enacting Nationalisms: Contemporary Amerindian Fashion in Canada
The Force of Fashion in Politics and Society: Global Perspectives from Early Modern to Contemporary Times (2010)
  • Cory A. Willmott, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Abstract

Today, generations after the adoption of European styles, Amerindian peoples’ everyday clothing is almost indistinguishable from that of other residents of North America. Until recently their culturally distinct clothing has been mainly reserved for ceremonial occasions such as powwows and religious rituals. This bifurcation of clothing styles and contexts parallels the dichotomy between ‘traditional’ and ‘assimilated’ Native identity that has been imposed by the dominant society. The dichotomy is a double bind: adopting ‘traditional’ identities, Native peoples are cast into a static ahistorical frame, while appearing ‘assimilated’ erases cultural distinctiveness. In both cases, Native peoples cannot effectively stake claims to a place in contemporary society. I suggest, however, that First Nations contemporary fashion designers have integrated the opposing identity poles in new clothing styles for everyday wear that combine ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ elements. The strategies they use to create this new integrated Aboriginal identity subverts colonial oppression through nation-building initiatives that contribute significantly to fluid and multi-leveled constructions of intertribal Native nationhood. These historical processes are strikingly similar to the social movement among urban North American Native peoples from the 1960s to the 1970s. The strategies that contemporary Native Canadian fashion designers use both materialize and enact intertribal nationhood in the realms of design, production and cultural performance.

Keywords
  • fashion,
  • entrepreneur,
  • identity,
  • nationalism,
  • Native American,
  • American Indian,
  • First Nations,
  • Canada
Publication Date
2010
Editor
Beverly Lemire
Publisher
Ashgate Publishing
Citation Information
Cory A. Willmott. "Designing, Producing and Enacting Nationalisms: Contemporary Amerindian Fashion in Canada" LondonThe Force of Fashion in Politics and Society: Global Perspectives from Early Modern to Contemporary Times (2010)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/cory_willmott/3/