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Wednesday, 19 November, 2014


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At left Naivitsi Yabeney wearing Iron Shell's design, her skirt is embellished with quill work. In the middle is Jerrica Brown modeling a parfleche bag made by Iron Shell and on right is Sunni Big Day modeling Iron Shell's fashion. (Alexandria Alvarez photos)

Iron Shell brings Native identity back through fashion

By ALEXANDRIA ALVAREZ
Sho-Ban News
POCATELLO — Sun Rose Iron Shell is a member of the Sicangu and Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
A recent graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Iron Shell received a Bachelor of Arts in Museum Studies, working with repatriation and curation and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts.
Iron Shell began doing fashion in 2012 and is in her second year of doing shows. She has received awards at the Santa Fe Indian Art Market S.W.A.I.A Contemporary Clothing Contest as a “Honorable Mention” ribbon winner and at the HeSapa Style Show Designer of the Year 2013 during the Black Hills Powwow.
“My fashion line is called Warrior Status because I like to say that everybody should elevate themselves to be a warrior, in other words, protecting all the people. That’s what comes out in my clothing line, in my designs. Be Warrior Status in everything you do, and stay positive,” she said.
Iron Shell uses a wide array of materials when making a collection piece for her line — everything from the color and Lakota symbolism is carefully considered. Iron Shell also creates all her accessories, which are also influenced by traditional Lakota arts; she creates earrings, belts and necklaces made of parfleche from elk hide, dentalium shells, quillwork and beadwork.
“It’s important that when I use these symbols or designs, that I keep the knowledge of them that goes with it. I do all my own hide work, and right now, I am working on a buffalo hide that I’ll be using next summer into belts and purses for next summer,” said Iron Shell.
It was her first fashion show in Idaho and she, has really enjoyed herself and the beautiful beadwork of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes has helped to inspire her. Currently, Iron Shell is living in Denver, Colorado and has been kept very busy. This year alone she has participated in over 30 fashion shows and said that her shows can range from doing at least once a month to three a month. In December, she will be doing three shows and said that it is an exciting time for natives to be in fashion. She has seen a lot of fashion designers such as herself, who are using fashion as a way to bring back Native American identity.  
She feels that many people’s hearts are on icicles from not seeing the beautiful traditional arts and symbols. It makes not only young people feel good, but older people as well when they can see a native person dress like that and they can feel good.
For the future, Iron Shell would love to have her own shop and live on top of the shop in a studio space and hopes to have her fashion line develop into a worldwide brand where it’s a lifestyle and everyone aspires to be positive. Her next project to come will be doing a public service announcement on domestic violence and the man camps at the XL Pipeline.
“Warrior Status is all this fashion and looking good, but backed by all the battles we are still fighting today. I want to help move the people forward,” concluded Iron Shell.
For those interested in contacting her, the best way is to contact her through Facebook at Warrior Status. She plans to have a web site by next year in January where she can be contacted at sunroseironshell.com, and some of her items for purchase can be found online at Beyond Buckskin Boutique. She also has Instagram that she regularly posts to at Warrior Status.