Photo by Manny Mares

Cheyenne Gordon, of the Hualapai tribe, certainly comes from a life of excitement. Born on Coronado Island in southern California, she is the fifth out of eight children. She spent much of her childhood crisscrossing the world with her family, as her father was a navy seal. A talented model who’s signed with Wilhelmina, she’s currently living out her dream and continues to make her vision of giving back to her people a reality.

Gordon and her family lived in Germany, a total of ten U.S. states, and just about every city in Arizona. “To say we moved around a lot is an understatement” admits Gordon. She’s also spent many years living on and off the Hualapai reservation located in the Grand Canyon.
Gordon’s career started at a very young age, when her mother got her and her siblings involved in acting and modeling. By the age of twelve, she developed an interest in fashion and art, and found herself making paper dolls and outfits. Gordon graduated to working with fabric when she took sewing and fashion design classes in both junior and high schools. When Gordon’s mother gave her a video camera for her birthday, she began writing scripts, designing and sewing clothes, styling outfits, directing and recording small scenes with her younger siblings.

city-swim-110-2
Photo by Roderick Goyena

Gordon didn’t have an easy childhood. “I look back at my younger years and think of how hard it was coming from various cultures.” Gordon dealt with racism, misplaced stereotypes, and identity issues. As a result, Gordon became painfully shy most of her life, only to use her interest in fashion as a way to express herself. “I used fashion as a way to silently be bold during my shy life.” However, Gordon found the strength to reverse the damage she faced, and is no longer afraid to put herself out there, or be bold when needed. “Now I try to use it as a gateway to help others to be bold and realize their own potential.”
Unfortunately, reality had set in for Gordon when she turned seventeen. She moved out on her own, found two full-time jobs, and enrolled in college. In between classes, she finally pinned down what she wanted to do with the rest of her life -”have a creative outlet, get to enjoy nature, be my own boss, earn a sufficient income to provide for a family, and above all, to help others.”

Gordon envisions moving back to the Hualapai reservation to set up a small farm to offer her people a place to obtain fresh and locally-grown produce. The nearest grocery store is about an hour away and difficult for tribal members to acquire healthy groceries nearby. With her major in Agriculture and Business Management, Gordon plans to not only open a market, but to focus on establishing a children’s program where they can learn, eat and play in a positive environment away from broken homes. “I want it to cater to the younger generations to encourage them to eat healthier, and possibly reducing the diabetes rate. To have a positive outlook and to be more involved with the community. My hopes are not only run a business, but to teach them that they too have the power to change, and to better themselves and our tribe as a whole.”

Gordon is constantly looking for new ways to better herself as an individual. “I plan to use my notoriety I may gain from my modeling and acting to put towards bettering not only the people of my tribe, but to inspire all young people everywhere.” Gordon’s daily activities bounce from yoga, hiking and gardening, to crafting, cooking and volunteering. Naturally, Gordon loves to travel, and according to her Instagram, you can see her almost anywhere any given week.