Native Hawaiian designer Kini Zamora kept many ICTMN readers glued to their sets on Thursday nights for his run to the final episode of 'Project Runway.' This image is from Zamora's audition for the show, and comes from the blog of Nick Verreos, Project Runway casting judge:

What a Year! 11 Artists Tout the Triumphs of 2014, and Look Ahead to 2015


The resolutions have been broken and the best-of lists are done (perhaps), but we decided we'd take one last look at the year 2014 through the eyes of Natives in the arts. Seeking reflections and (optional) predictions, we asked these 11 creative types for their thoughts, and here's what they had to say. 

Douglas Miles (Apache), Artist

2014 was perfect. I had a retrospective show in my hometown of Phoenix AZ called "Apache X: Douglas Miles and 10 Years of Apache Skateboards" at the Monorchid Gallery. This was considered the best show during Phoenix’s Art Detour. We were also interviewed by NPR. Apache Skateboards also did three projects (one in progress ) with the Ute Tribe in Fort Duchesne UT, a skate park christening, a large mural with Thomas Breeze Marcus and currently have a film in production about suicide prevention. I also opened a show of my artwork I create primarily for social media at University Of New Mexico: “Instapache”.

I loved the new D’Angelo album Black Messiah for its sheer psychedelic funk complexity. He’s an heir to the Parliament-Funkadelic Sly Stone throne. I also thoroughly enjoyed the new Indigenous Fine Art Market based in Santa Fe NM. It came to the forefront unapologetically showcasing new native artists. 

We have two new current projects, a unique film produced by the Fort Duchesne Ute Tribe, directed by myself, "The Awakening”. It will address the issue of teenage suicide, prevention and encourages kids to seek help. We’ll also be dropping a new skateboard collaboration with the infamous Chiricahua Apache Sculptor, Allan Houser. We’re excited to bring the work of Allan Houser to a new generation making sure his enduring legacy and work is honored in the now.

Anti-mascot, anti-redface graphic created by Douglas Miles' What Tribe project.

I would like to see Native people move past the harsh historically traumatic aftermath of history and rise from the toxic ashes of self-victimization. In order to do this it takes being able to see the impossible as possible, a willingness to serve tribes with humility, more activism on front lines of urban and rural centers that create a revolution that can feed, clothe and employ people, not just hype for social media fan “follows”. If its been said it takes a village to raise a child, it will take our tribes to support, feed and protect them. It would also be good to see less negative, stereotypical and institutionally racist images of Native people in media and even in our own art venues. Sometimes it seems that a certain segment of Native artists and performers thrive off of stereotypical content without looking at its effect on us in pop culture. (site:

Charlie Ballard (Sac and Fox, Anishinaabe), standup comedian

2014 turned out to be a great year for me, here are some of my personal highlights! In April, my family decided to attend Gathering of Nations Powwow in New Mexico and I was interested in hosting Stage 49 again but this time I wanted to do it in drag -- and that's exactly how it happened! I just couldn't believe how well I was received by everyone, I kind of felt like Selena, look for me again hosting the 2015 GON Stage 49 with my big wigs and boots!

Sometime last year I developed an addiction for Ramen noodles, I just couldn't get enough. I think most people fear eating Asian noodles because they don't know how to use chopsticks so I made a little instruction video on how to use chopsticks!

Margaret Cho with Charlie Ballard

My favorite highlight from 2014 was helping Comedian Margaret Cho raise money for the San Francisco homeless in December!  We got people to donate clothes, food, tampons, socks, blankets, money and anything else the homeless could use. The great thing about this fundraiser is that all proceeds went directly to the homeless on hand.  Organizations that directly benefited from online donations included Larkin Street Youth Services and Lava Mae (a non-profit in SF who provide showers to the homeless on wheels). Any can donate here:

Nationally, 2014 was definitely the Year of the Native Activist, whether it was the keyrstone pipeline issue, the Mascot controversy or the fracking of Indian land.  In 2015, we'll see more of our Native communities being more politically active.

See you guys in 2015 !!!!
Charlie (site:

Tonantzin Carmelo (Tongva and Kumeyaay), Actress

Recent highlights for me include roles in three upcoming feature films: Child of Grace, Medicine Men, and Sundance selected Entertainment, opposite John C. Reilly. I'm also building my voice over credits playing Roxanne in Ubisoft’s hit open racer game The Crew. On the stage, I played historic figure Nellie Pathkiller in the world premier of The Beloved Women in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. (site:

Kini Zamora (Native Hawaiian), Project Runway competitor and designer behind KINIandDINKO

For our company, 2014 was whirlwind of business building, changing, launching, branching, reaching….and a whole lotta Project Runway. We are so very proud of our Kini Zamora for demonstrating his physical and emotional talents for the world to see. He not only promoted himself and this organization, but showcased our native and innate spirit of aloha.

KINIandDINKO introduced our website, collaborations, and fashions both at the local and international levels, showcased at Honolulu Fashion Week, and gave back to one of Kini's collegiate alma mater and co-sponsored an annual Makahiki Maoli Festival for our Native Hawaiian Immersion families and community.

We feel very blessed at our achievements as a small business and look forward to 2015 to build up!

We are thankful to networks like Indian Country Today, and hope that we are fulfilling our cultural goals of respect and gratitude to contribute to the forward movement of our indigenous people. "

me ka ha'aha'a (with humility)


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