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Model Hauli Warrior Gray wears Leslie Deer’s dress, “Voices of our Ancestors.”

“Native American culture has always been influencing fashion, whether it’s body art, jewelry or clothing,” says Muscogee apparel artist Leslie Deer. This month Deer will showcase her creations at Cherokee Art Market for the third year.

Known for its bold color combinations and applique techniques, Deer’s clothing is made from natural fibers such as wool, silk and organic cotton whenever possible. Her print fabrics are polyester. Although the styles possess a modern feel, she says her work is heavily influenced by her Muscogee background and ancestors. Southeastern tribal motifs are incorporated and expressed throughout each item, most of which are dresses.

“A lot of people have a misconception that all Native Americans wear buckskin dresses, and that’s not the case,” Deer says. “I’m taking my ancestral designs from the past and bringing them forward into the present day.”

“Voices of our Ancestors,” a red dress with symbols representing the “Three Worlds” from Muscogee legends, will be among Deer’s pieces at the Market. In addition to showcasing her handiwork, Deer will speak at 2 p.m. both days about her native fashion.

“I want my garments to make people feel empowered and like they are expressing themselves and their identification with, or support of, native culture and native arts,” Deer explains. “I’m hoping it communicates to a new generation.” 

Oct. 12-13 — Cherokee Art Market

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sequoyah Convention Center inside Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tulsa, 777 W. Cherokee St., Catoosa. $5; free, children 12 and under. cherokeeartmarket.com

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