Bethany Yellowtail: The Medicine Wheel Collection
Teachings From The Ancestors
In Cheyenne Legend A little girl named “Fresh Cloud” told her mother whose name was “The Last Breath of Night” that often during the night a great bird arrived to feed itself and it ate pieces of her body and continued until Fresh Cloud’s mother awakened her and light as the wind would throw the bird out. With patience and understanding “The last Breath of Night explained to her daughter that the shadows she saw at night were called dreams and the great bird was only a shadow which came to save her. Fresh Cloud answered she was afraid of the dark shadows and only wanted to see good things at night. So the wise mother to help her child overcome fear created a round net which she placed over her head before the child slept to fish the dreams in the lake of night so only good dreams would appear the dreamcatcher is known today as the sacred circle to protect spiritual growth and that same spirit of protection love and growth permeates the work of Native clothing designer Bethany Yellowtail.
Bethany Yellowtail is perhaps the premiere Native American contemporary clothing designer in the U.S.A seen in film and the red carpet of Hollywood her works have been seen in New York fashion week and have informed European fashion houses as well. Yellowtails designs are uniquely representative of her culture and personal life experiences as an Apsaalooke Crow and Northern Cheyenne Native.
Crow designs many say can be spotted right away by those in the know because of the tribal signifiers in the designs the specific crow patterns of geometric hourglass shapes and figures pay homage to her people. In 2015 a European design company tried to pass of her designs as their own and was caught. The resulting scandal thrust Bethany Yellowtails amazing designs into the spotlight and a legend of fashion was born. At the time Bethany stated in an interview” Honestly I do not want to play a victim, nor am I here to be hostile.
Regardless of how this plays out I will move forward in the best way I know how, which is honorable and true to the people I belong to. I will keep moving and I look forward to releasing my new collection for Spring/Summer. However I do not want to see that KTZ dress being sold in stores this fall…When asked if she saw other native design heritage being taken she responded ”Absolutely, I immediately saw Lakota designs, color ways, and even the Navajo Sacred Yei. I can’t speak for them, as I am not a Lakota or Navajo person… It was distasteful to me.”In March 0f 2016 Bethany yellowtails designs were featured at a weekend fashion event by Chastity Davis (Sliammon First Nation), an advocate for Missing and Murdered Indigenous women in Canada. Chastity wore yellowtails designs to a pre-Oscars event, the Crow Rose Suede Slip Dress with the Women’s Northern Contemporary Cape. She accompanied actor Duane Howard, one of the stars of the multi-Oscar nominated movie The Revenant. For the Oscars, Chastity wore the Miss Apsaalooke Wrap Dress. Bethany Yellowtail’s Native name is Ammaakealachehiibaachilakacheesh which means “Overcomes through Faith.” Now she is prepped to unleash her Medicine Wheel Collection focused on using ancestral knowledge expressed through her designs about healing which the world is in desperate need of at this juncture. What remains true is that Bethany Yellowtail has developed a blueprint for working with Indigenous communities which should be adopted across the industry to preserve Indigenous heritage.
Sustainability Cosultant Livia Firth said this about her work. “‘Today’s fashion landscape has changed dramatically and, after two years of pandemic and now war and conflict, diaspora and trauma, we are all feeling overwhelmed. Fashion is a full spectrum industry running across the globe, touching billions of lives and reliant on a healthy biosphere. We must use that reach and power to bring purposeful change. We also know that sustainability solutions are intersectional solutions, that environmental justice is totally interlinked with social justice.
Bethany attended college at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) where she was recognized for her amazing design talent. A member of Phi Theta Kappa, she was consistently on the Presidents list and nominated for FIDM’s prestigious “Fashion Designers Award,” she graduated Summa Cum Laude as one of the schools most high profile alumnae. Her designs are inspired through her love for her culture and Haute Couture as well as high-end women's wear. Her contemporary fusion of native craftsmanship with sophisticated contemporary design is edgy and sexy. Bethany uses only high quality fabrics and every B.Yellowtail design is meticulously constructed.
At the time of this article January 2023 Yellowtail resides in Los Angeles, California where she has developed her own label and works as a freelance fashion designer. She specializes in custom designs, and women’s wear including, bridal, cocktail, and evening dresses. Her work is highly sought after and sure to be impactful on Spring 2023 runways.