Muscogee Models Autumn and Raini Deerinwater model original designs by Sheila Tucker. (Source: Sheilatuckeroffical)

by Braden Harper

NEW YORK CITY, New York – Times Square is one of New York City’s most popular destinations for tourists to visit from around the globe. Also known as “The Crossroads of the World,” it stands as one of the most significant commercial intersections in the country. It’s known for its fine dining, world-class theater, and array of large digital billboards. On July 18, the Deerinwater Sisters were featured in an advertisement campaign that debuted on a billboard in that world-famous junction.“It just means more to both of us that we’re able to actually be a part of this and represent Native Americans, and our tribe,” Autumn Deerinwater said. “To have both of us inspire other people that they can do this.”

Originally from Sapulpa, the twin sisters are models with a passion for fashion. “It’s really emotional. I saw myself doing big things growing up. This is something that is really huge,” Autumn Deerinwater said.The original designs modeled in the billboard campaign were designed by Sheila Tucker (Anishinaabe Objibwe) from the YellowQuill First Nation Reservation in Saskatchewan, Canada. Tucker launched her original fashion brand in 2019.

Known for her beadwork and garments, Tucker’s work is inspired by traditional Ojibwe Floral Designs. The Deerinwater Sisters connected to Tucker through their father, a collector of her work. Autumn began modeling for Tucker in October 2021.When Autumn Deerinwater heard Tucker’s work would be featured on a Times Square Billboard, she did not think much of it. That is until she learned Tucker wanted her to be featured on it.“I was like, absolutely 110 percent yes, we have to do this,” Autumn Deerinwater said. “And then I was just sitting there thinking, ‘it would be kind of cool having my sister there with me.”The photo shoot for the campaign took place in the Salt River, located in Phoenix, Arizona.“It was a lot of fun, it was so beautiful, the location was everything, it couldn’t have been more perfect,” Autumn Deerinwater said.

In the shoot, the sisters are seen standing in the river, modeling bright orange dresses with earrings. They can also be seen wearing Tucker’s signature beaded fedora hats.The rest is history. The sisters had the opportunity to travel to New York City the week the billboard campaign debuted in Times Square. The junction’s foot traffic can see as many as 360,000 pedestrians on average during a typical business day.

The Deerinwater Sisters understand the magnitude of being Native American Models featured on a commercial platform of this scale. This campaign has only motivated them further to pursue modeling.“I want to do more, and put Native Americans out in the media even more,” Autumn Deerinwater said. Thanks to trailblazers like Autumn and Raini, the future of Indigenous modeling is bright as they help usher Indigenous culture into mainstream society.

To learn more about Sheila Tucker’s work, visit: Native American Designer | Sheila Tucker.