September 07, 2011

Inked model is Pamunkey?

Alesandra Nicole Gets ‘Inked’This month’s Inked magazine features a lingerie fashion shoot and interview with cover model Alesandra Nicole, who says of her ink, “I didn’t want to be cookie-cutter. I wanted to get skulls and guns tattooed around my hips and lean as far to the offensive side as I could.”

She’s then identified as an “anything-but-cookie-cutter Native American.”

Native American, for realz? “My family is from the Pamunkey Indian Tribe along the Pamunkey river in eastern Virginia,” she tells Indian Country Today Media Network. As for the body art that earned her the cover shoot for the magazine (by renowned lensman Warwick Saint), she does have a couple of nods to her heritage. “I’ve got an Indian woman on my leg,” she says, “wearing what is traditionally a man’s chief headdress, for reasons personal to me. I’ve also got a series of feathers along my body.”
Comment:  Nicole's "family" is from a tribe that's not federally recognized. What does that mean, exactly?

Color me a little skeptical about her claim. Googling "Alesandra Nicole" produces 15,700 hits. Adding "Pamunkey" reduces it to four hits--all references to this article. Apparently she's never mentioned her Native heritage until now.

I'd guess she's in the same category as Miley Cyrus, Jessica Simpson, or Khloe Kardashian. She has a small amount of Indian "blood" but likes to think of herself as Native. Especially when it helps her market herself as exotic, authentic, or natural.

At least she recognizes that headdresses are traditionally worn by Native men. But she has a tattoo of a woman in a headdress anyway. Sigh.

For more on identity questions, see Gavin MacLeod, Chippewa? and Churchill and Clinton Are Cherokee?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Comment: Nicole's "family" is from a tribe that's not federally recognized. What does that mean, exactly?"

As a Pamunkey Tribal member living on the Pamunkey Reservation, I hear much of the same. Lots of people claiming ancestry but their ancestors dropped away from the tribe years ago. It very well may be that they do have ancestry, to include Alesandra. But ancestry is only one mandatory aspect of membership. Long-standing connection with other tribal members living on the reservation (oldest in the nation) is just as important.

But, if I had my way, this beautiful woman would be a tribal member any day.