February 26, 2013

Dahmen the first Native supermodel?

Reclaiming Her Identity: A Conversation With Native Adoptee and Author Susan Fedorko

By Anne MinardSusan Fedorko was 40 years old when she found her birth family—or rather, when a long-lost sister found her. Her first book, Cricket: Secret Child of a Sixties Supermodel (Outskirts Press, 2012) chronicles Fedorko’s journey from Native American adoptee-turned “white” mother and wife, to a person reunited with her extended family. That family hails from the Grand Portage Indian Reservation people on her mother’s side and the White Earth Nation on her father’s, both Chippewa/Ojibwe. In an unexpected twist, Fedorko discovered that just a few years after her birth, her birth mother—Cathee Dahmen—had become an immensely popular supermodel, probably the first Native American woman to attain that status.

How did you react when you first realized who your birth mother was, and how do you look at it now?

As an adoptee, you fantasize about who your birth parents could be. What did they look like? What were they like? What types of jobs did they have? You imagine that you may get photos of them someday, normal photos. Perhaps they would be blowing out birthday candles, sitting on the couch with a sibling, standing near a Christmas tree. Some of the very first images I saw of my birth mom were on the cover of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. I was flooded with new images of Cathee for the first few months; she was photographed by some of the very best fashion photographers in the world. The very first images that I saw, I studied them intensely. I could see myself in those photos.… I could also see her in both my daughters.
Comment:  I posted this article just for the claim that Cathee Dahmen was the first Native supermodel. I never heard of her, so I doubt most people would call her a supermodel.

Wikipedia seems to concur:


In February 1968, an article in Glamour described 19 models as "supermodels," of whom were: Cheryl Tiegs, Verushka, Lisa Palmer, Peggy Moffitt, Susan Murray, Twiggy, Susan Harnett, Marisa Berenson, Gretchen Harris, Heide Wiedeck, Irish Bianchi, Hiroko Matsumoto, Anne DeZagher, Kathie Carpenter, Jean Shrimpton, Jean Patchett, Benedetta Barzini, Claudia Duxbury, and Agneta Frieberg.

Iman is considered to have been the first supermodel of color.
No mention of Dahmen in this posting.

Twiggy, Verushka, and Cheryl Tiegs are the ones I think of when I think of the first supermodels in the 1960s. And Iman is who I think of as the first supermodel of color. I don't think there's been a Native supermodel yet or we'd have heard of her.

For more on the subject, see Watchman the First Native Supermodel?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems as if she was a pretty well-known and recognizable model at the time, with several covers of major magazines to her credit, though. "Supermodel" is a better hook for the story, so I guess that accounts for why the author chose to describe her birth mother that way.