Indigenous student group, AMDT partner on new sash for upcoming powwow

When members of Washington State University’s Native American Women’s Association (NAWA) heard that WSU has a fashion design program, they reached out for help from a fellow student on a fashion need.

A manequin with a sash across its torso. The white sash has crimson words Miss Pah-Loots-Puu 2022-23 on it in red letters and numbers.
The sash created by AMDT student Marina Wilson for last year’s Miss Pah-Loots-Puu competition. Wilson also made a second sash for this year’s competition.

NAWA members wanted to improve the appearance of the sash worn by the woman named Miss Pah-Loots-Puu at the Pah-Loots-Puu Powwow, held on the WSU Pullman campus this Saturday, April 15.

“The crown is what most people see, but the sash also stands out on the winner,” said Alesia Nez, the current Miss Pah-Loots-Puu who is running again this year. “We wanted to feature WSU colors and include indigenous groups like NAWA and WSU Native American Programs. NAWA also wanted to collaborate with other departments and programs, so we reached out to the design department as an ideal partner.”

Miss Pah-Loots-Puu is an indigenous representation for students at WSU, a scholarly person connecting indigenous students to higher ed, Nez said. Miss Pah-Loots-Puu also represents WSU at other powwows held around the region.

To anyone’s knowledge, NAWA and WSU’s Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design, and Textiles (AMDT) had never formally worked together. Nez, a third-year biology major focusing on pre-pharmacy, emailed an AMDT professor asking about students who would want to design a sash. Marina Wilson, a senior graduating in May, expressed interest and provided several design ideas. NAWA picked the one they thought was perfect.

A woman stands against a rock background wearing a dark shirt, intricate and matching necklace, rings, and bracelets, a crown with the WSU logo and a sash. The crown and sash both say Miss Pah-Loots-Puu.
Alesia Nez wearing the previous sash as last year’s winner of Miss Pah-Loots-Puu.

“It’s important for indigenous students to feel they belong here,” said Nez, who grew up in New Mexico as a member of the Navajo Nation. “We often struggle with a feeling of belonging at WSU. A friend in NAWA suggested partnering with AMDT. We love Marina’s design.”

Wilson sent NAWA 20 different options with various fonts and colors. The apparel and textile design major, who grew up in Corvallis, Ore., said she’s glad the group liked her work.

“It was exciting and nerve-wracking,” said Wilson, who recently showed her senior design collection in the WSU Fashion Show during Family Weekend. “I wanted to make something really nice for them, and I love being able to work on my embroidery, which they asked for on the sash.”

Wilson said the sash design is deliberately understated to stand out from the often elaborate and beautiful clothing worn by Miss Pah-Loots-Puu contestants. The design is predominantly white, with WSU crimson borders and the words “Miss Pah-Loots-Puu 2022-23” embroidered on it. It also features the WSU Cougar head logo and the logos of WSU Native American Programs and NAWA after the letters.

The next Miss Pah-Loots-Puu will be chosen and given the sash at the powwow.

Media Contacts

Scott Weybright, Public Relations/Communications Coordinator, 509-335-2967