Local teens go for a Spin

JDHS students model Native clothing for magazine

Posted: Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Daniel Brown Sr., who is a role model for his students at Dzantik'i Heeni Middle School, is now a fashion model for Spin magazine.

Brown, a resource specialist for Indian Studies, appears in the December issue of Spin, a publication geared toward the latest in music. Juneau-Douglas High School students Daniel Brown Jr., Charlotte Marie Marvin and Denise Bennett also model Native American clothes in Spin.

The older Brown sports a $13,000 mink poncho, a $500 pair of wool pants, a bear-tooth necklace and a wooden flute. He made the flute and necklace.

"The poncho was warm and comfortable," Brown said. "It felt like it belonged to me."

He enjoyed his touch of mink and didn't blink at the price, quoted at $10,000 during the shoot in August.

"I told them I'd buy it on the spot," Brown said. "I asked if they take Master Card, gold or a check."

Marvin and Bennett, both high school juniors, appear together.

Marvin has a $3,560 long-hair shearling coat and Bennett a $565 sweater. Bennett's right arm rests on the shoulder of her cousin and best friend.

"My friends kept pressuring me to do this," said Bennett, who is shy but quick to smile. "I try not to show it (the magazine) off."

"A whole bunch of people called and said they're proud," Marvin said. "But they can't find the magazine."

Spin, with its full-page photos of the local residents, sold out quickly in Juneau.

Daniel Brown Jr., was the first one to meet the Spin crew when it showed up at the high school this summer. He posed in a sheepskin coat, denim jacket and pants, and a pair of leather shoes (prices were not listed).

Unlike his father, the high school senior did not experience comfort and joy while wearing the designer clothes.

"They were tight. I was uncomfortable from head to toe," Brown said. "I didn't care, I was getting paid."

The Spin photos turned heads at the middle school where the older Brown coaches and counsels in addition to his duties with the Native Studies program.

"He's a heck of a role model around here," sixth-grade teacher Dave Ringle said. "He's a positive example of someone proud of their culture."

Ringle called the magazine spread "awesome."

Seventh-grader Antonio Osborne described it as "tight," "fly," and "dope." In other words, cool.

"I like the way it made him look Native," said Osborne, who is related to the four models.

"It's pretty cool the way he's dressed and the way his hair is down," added his cousin, eighth-grader Jeffrey Osborne.

The models had their thick, black hair neatly groomed and flowing down their shoulders.

Daniel Brown Sr., said long hair is part of Tlingit culture.

"It was a sign of strength and character," he explained. "The long hair was used by shamans, who never combed it because they feared it would take away their spirit."

Spin paid Bennett, Marvin and the Browns between $200 to $500.

It's a small amount, but they feel it was invaluable.

"Having those photos in a magazine that addresses the younger generation opens the doors of communication," the senior Brown said. "The students are more open to me now and talk more."

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