Dani is one of the few fully developed Indigenous characters in comic book history, let alone a Native Woman. I decided to give her more authenticity by including items like Native-made jewelry and a bandana that highlights Indigenous philosophies and issues: Defend-Resist, Protect- Renew.
The response at cons is always well received. Sometimes people don’t know who I am, but when they do, they are so excited. Especially other Native people because it is rare for us to have representations of ourselves in pop culture. And it’s even rarer to have an actual Indigenous person portray an Indigenous character.
I created the suit myself. The accessories are all from my closet. The bandana was a gift to me from @Indigenous Rising. The bow was hand-carved and made by my little brother. Something that was challenging was the boots. Originally they were an old pair of boots I spray painted yellow but ended up flaking throughout the con. I’ve since replaced them with an actual pair of yellow boots.
(photo : indigipop_x)
I discovered cosplay when I was first entering middle school. It was always something I wanted to try but never had the courage or money to do. It wasn’t until I was 19 did I go to a con in cosplay. I threw together some quick Mia Wallace and Vincent Vega cosplays with my ex. Even then, I was incredibly nervous. But after seeing everyone else in cosplay and getting compliments on mine, I felt super inspired to do more.
When I first started learning about and doing cosplay, I thought of it as a way to escape my everyday self. Then I would be hyper critical and would stress myself out if my cosplays were not accurate enough. People who create accurate cosplays are fantastic for the amount of detail they put in, but I learned that kind of cosplaying is not for me.
By integrating aspects of my identity into my favorite characters, I create a new and unique experience for myself. For me, cosplaying is now a medium of self-love and self-care.
Despite her passing, one of the most influential people in my life is my grandmother. She created all of my first costumes as a child. (Although all for Halloween, they might as well have been cosplays, because I rarely took them off.) In addition to first sparking my interest in dressing up as characters, she also taught me pivotal lessons in loving myself. She would always tell me, “you have to learn to be happy with who you are and what you’re doing because no one else can do that for you.”
My grandmother loved science fiction and took me to my first convention. She also was the first person I ever heard comparing Indigenous philosophies with pop culture. A lot of the conversations we’d have would later influence my work. Every day and every time I cosplay, I carry her with me.
Right now, I’ve been facing a critical decision: to continue cosplaying or not. Cosplay has been a tool for me to learn about myself. Not long ago, I started an incredible opportunity to learning and revitalize my Native language as my everyday job, which has wholly enriched my sense of being and connect to my people and the land. Nowadays, I ask myself, “how can I continue these things that contribute to so much destruction to the Earth?”
Let’s be honest. Creating cosplays involves a lot of waste that ends up polluting the land. Giving up cosplaying is a double edge sword for me because it has turned into my life’s work so far to help create accurate depictions of Native people in pop culture and help inspire other Indigenous people. Giving up something I love is gut-wrenching.
Honestly, I don’t have the answer right now. I love storytelling, nerd culture, and getting dressed up. But I also love my people and the land.