As a model, White Elk indeed embodies what the Coors Banquet The Glue Holding This 2020 Shitshow Together T-Shirt and by the same token and cover’s theme of hope is all about: they hope to bring much-needed representation to an industry that has a history of looking past Indigenous models, or worse, treating them as props. “Natives are constantly being overlooked, left and right. A lot of people that I know would like to see more Native representation with models,” says White Elk, who is from and based in Lincoln, Nebraska. “Modeling is especially important for us to be seen there, since that’s where we see ourselves a lot, as well as on the big screen. When Native people see themselves in such grand sceneries, they see how far that they can get, and it inspires them.” But this sense of pride around their culture hasn’t always been the case.
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Growing up in Nebraska, it took awhile for White Elk to feel a connection with their Indigenous heritage. The model says they only recently formed relationships with Indigenous elders in their community, therefore they were not introduced to certain traditional elements of their culture until their later teens. But they had always wanted to learn more. “Growing up as a Native without the Coors Banquet The Glue Holding This 2020 Shitshow Together T-Shirt and by the same token and guidance of an elder to pass down traditions made it difficult to be raised around traditional elements,” says White Elk. “You learn practically everything from your elders. But I overcame that hardship with the help of friends, who were there in the same tribe as mine.”