SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Growing up on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, Kelly Holmes spent hours thumbing through the latest issues of Seventeen or Vogue. She noticed the models didn't look anything like her and the stories had little to do with her experiences in the vast, sparsely populated area hundreds of miles from any high-end retailer.
So Holmes, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, set out to create her own fashion magazine geared toward Native American men and women and non-Native Americans who want to learn about the culture.
Native Max focuses on indigenous people, places and cultures with the same sleek photography found in fashion magazines but without the stereotypical headdresses and tomahawks sometimes seen in the mainstream media. The premiere issue, which is online only, features interviews with Native American artists, musicians, designers and models, as well as sections on health, beauty and sports.
"There's really no magazine, a Native-owned and operated, Native-designed magazine. There's nothing like this magazine out there. The ones that do have stuff focused on younger people, they're really vulgar and very revealing," said Holmes, 21, who now lives in Denver.
The first issue of the quarterly magazine features Mariah Watchman as the cover model. Watchman, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation out of Oregon, catapulted to fame in Indian Country after becoming the first Native American woman to compete on "America's Next Top Model."
While the magazine aims to present positive role models and uplifting messages, it will touch on controversial topics, Holmes said. In the premiere issue, Holmes interviewed two women who started a campaign called Save Wiyabe Project to highlight violence against Native American women. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates one out of every three Native women will be raped and one out of every four will be physically assaulted.
Rhonda LeValdo, president of the Native American Journalists Association, said Native Max and other Native-focused media show American society that Native Americans are regular people, too.
"They want to be models, movie stars, artists. I think that's showing the regular side as opposed to that stereotype of just showing us in our dance regalia," she said.