A mother of five, assistant to the Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara) Tribal Chairman, fashion designer/beader/creator-in-demand, wife, and aspiring business owner, Hidatsa, Dakota Sioux, and Assiniboine Norma Baker-Flying Horse usually needs no introduction to whether or not she can accomplish daunting tasks. Already juggling a demanding career, business, and family, her accomplishments and goals continue to pave a path that inspires many.
Last year, she showcased her fashion line Red Berry Woman at several fashion shows, including Native Max’s Native Fashion in the City as well as her own fashion show that attracted the participation of various dignitaries from Indian Country including former Miss Indian World (2016-2017) Danielle Finn and Breaking Bad’s Jeremiah Bitsui, among others. She will be gracing the Native Fashion in the City runway show again this year with some of Indian Country’s brightest fashion designers.
Norma joins the ranks among some of Indian Country’s most renowned artists, and her demand includes years of waiting. Her work is high in demand from many of Indian Country’s dignitaries regularly making appearances on the red carpet or at some of the most prestigious events celebrating Native people.
Norma shares her journey isn’t entirely self-motivated, however. She credits her grandmother Beverly Walking Eagle-Baker and her mother Roberta Baker for teaching her the basics of both beading and sewing while a teenager. And although her talent and skill in beading is worthy of museum curation, it’s her sewing that is her focus. Her younger brother Caleb Baker introduced her to appliqué work that is well-recognized among Northern tribes, and she has continued to build on and brand her style of appliqué that is renowned throughout the country and beyond.
She mentions two well-known and accomplished fashion designers that motivate her: Jamie Okuma and Bethany Yellowtail. Both designers have paved a trail that many have followed throughout Indian Country, and there is no doubt Norma is on her to being another trailblazer.
“The work that these two are doing inspire me to want to achieve more and more,” said Norma. “The way they promote other artists is a level I want to be on, and they are exemplary icons in the industry. I am in disbelief my work is being featured along their side.”
Handling a business is no easy feat, and Norma manages all levels of her fashion line Red Berry Woman including creating, consultation, promotion, marketing, and development. With a future paved by many years of dedication and hard work, Norma continues to express how excited she is to share her journey and future goals.
“It takes so much work to create and promote your work,” said Norma. “The fact that the amount of orders I have in the future is overwhelming, but a result of hard work and dedication. I don’t mass produce orders, each item I create takes time to get to know the person who is going to be wearing an item I create, and I want it to be meaningful to the person.”
Later this year Norma revealed she is going to focus on collaborating with other artists including fashion designers to showcase fashion and talent particularly in the Northern part of the country. “I’d like to encourage those living in the Northern regions to experience and participate in fashion as well, to show our communities as well as others elsewhere that there is tremendous untapped potential.”
You can follow Norma Baker-Flying Horse via Instagram at www.instagram.com/red_berry_woman or see her work showcased at this year’s Native Fashion in the City of Denver, Colorado. For more information on Native Fashion in the City’s schedule of events, please visit www.nativefashioninthecity.com.