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Ashley Kahsaklahwee Paves a Path for Native American Models

By Jeff Ferrantino on January 31, 2007

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For a model making quite the splash these days, Ashley Kahsaklahwee certainly has a unique way of going about her career path.

"I kind of do it backwards, you know," admits the 5'5'' beauty. "I'm an Aquarius and we do everything in reverse."

Doing everything in reverse would mean attending college and completing law school before launching a full-time modeling career, where she is known today as the top Native American model in the country.

Kahsaklahwee was raised in Oklahoma, where her father is a tribal member of both the Cherokee and Creek Nations. Her mother is German, which made for an interesting upbringing, she says.

Kahsaklahwee shares, "I've been asked so many times — what are you? I get asked if I'm Italian and all different kinds of things. I think my look is just a little bit different thanks to my being a mutt!"

Kahsaklahwee holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Business, graduating Cum Laude. She later attended a private law school, where she focused on Native American rights. She attributes much of her passion for Native law to her grandmother, who was a Trail of Tears survivor.

"It was very important to her and her family that we carried on and represented that culture," says Kahsaklahwee, who once made her way onto CNN for protesting a bear wrestling issue in Oklahoma.

Inspired by her older sister who worked runway for Ford Modeling Agency, Kahsaklahwee has always had an interest in modeling. She did a few commercials and print ads as a teen, and used modeling to help defray some of her college tuition costs over the years.

"Everybody thinks that Natives go to school for free — not true," says Kahsaklahwee. "I paid about $150,000 in tuition alone to get through school. I would do some print ads here and there, but my focus was school. Modeling was just one of those things that I kind of fell into."

While modeling has not always been at the top of the list for Native Americans in terms of career choices, Kahsaklahwee says that she and her sister have always had the full support of their family.

"My parents are so opposite of each other that I was given both sides of the coin to decide which way that I wanted to go," she explains. "That's given me the opportunity to not necessarily take whichever path is easiest, but one that's going to challenge me and give me better experiences in life."