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  • Writer's pictureAlvinita Gonzales

Kiara Love Flores | Interview - Issue #3

- Kiara Love Flores -

20 - Kuupangaxwichem & Northern Ute

Which culture or sub-culture did you grow up in? More Traditional Indigenous, Traditional Mexican, Chicano/Lowrider, Reservation, or More American-esque? Or a different culture/sub-culture?

Growing up I would say that I've lived the urban and reservation lifestyles of living, meaning I went to school in the city, but most days my nights would end on the reservation at my grandmas house. Summer, winter, Spring Break and weekends in Pala.

What are your favorite parts of that culture and community?

My favorite parts about my culture and community would have to be the powwow lifestyle. Growing up the powwow arena has been a blessing I didn't realize I had until more recent days. Its kept me on that rez road and who knows where I would be without powwows, and its given me opportunities to travel across the world.

How did growing up in that culture effect your current style, and point of view of life?

I do believe that it has effected my everyday style. I would describe my current style as "Indigenous Streetwear" or "Indigenous Casual" which to me means I incorporate different aspects of our traditional clothing items in a more modern way. Choosing to dress like this everyday has changed my point of view as to how proud I am to wear my beadwork, to wear my turquoise or silver, and to wear my ribbon skirts with a head held high.

As an adult now, have you learned about other Indigenous or Mexican sub-cultures?

I feel as if I learn something new everyday, and I don't know how I will, but when it comes across me it comes in ways of socializing. Our people are people of oral tradition, meaning we pass our teaching through story telling. I often come across lots of elders who love to tell stories. Being at powwows has been a huge influence of my knowledge. Also being an American Indian Studies Major at Cal State University San Marcos has given me many resources to over 10 indigenous professors who truly understand our lifestyles and are great teachers and knowledge keepers.

What are your favorite parts of that culture and community?

Being able to pass on the knowledge someone lese has told you is such aa blessing. I believe when someone tells you a teaching, they tell you because they want you to be able to carry that tradition along and pass on the knowledge because you gave them reason to gift you that teaching.

How has it effected your style and point of view of life now?

I've been able to pass on knowledge to others and share it with people who may have not gotten the chance yet to learn it. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is sacred.

As an indigenous woman, do you mind sharing what tribe(s) you are part of?

Kuupangaxwichem (Pala, California) & Northern Ute (Fort Duchesne, Utah)

Did you grow up on the reservation or outside of it?

Both I went to school in the city, and on weekends, breaks I would stay with my gram on the rez.

How did growing up on or off the reservation impact your relationship with your indigenous roots/culture?

Living in both worlds almost felt balanced for me. I felt like I had a chance to escape the common 'naughty rez kid" narrative by spacing my social time from that. I still played rezball (basketball and softball) growing up and some of my own cousins would make fun of me for living in the city but I never let it get to me. It was the traditional knowledge I knew in my head that kept me connected to it all. It didn't matter that I some nights I fell asleep in the city because I knew my heart was always in Pala.

Please tell us about the work that you do within your culture(s)'s community. Or the work that you are doing to continue educating yourself or others about your culture(s).

I am a current student at California State University San Marcos majoring in American Indian Studies with a concentration in Arts and Humanities meanwhile, I also work on campus at The California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center. In my spare time I work as a community engagement specialist for the California Community Colleges Campaign for American Indian Alaskans Natives. As well as I currently hold the title for Ms. University of California Riverside Powwow Princess. I love traveling to schools to give presentations and dance workshops as well as motivational speaking. I plan to continue the work I do as well as continue the fun parts of life I love such as modeling! I am grateful to have had multiple opportunities to work and model for Jamie Okuma as well. I believe fashion is a way I always start conversations because of what I'm wearing.


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Model and Interviewee - Kiara Love Flores | @kupakiara

Editor in Chief - Alvinita Gonzales Production Assistant - Berlinda Gomez Photography and Videography - Alvinita Gonzales

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