On a normal weekend, the inside of the Four Seasons Arena in Great Falls is a cacophony of referees whistles, sneaker squeaks and raving basketball fans. But this past weekend it transformed to house the annual Great Western Living and Design Show. Instead of high school pep bands, old-timey western music plays over loudspeakers. The room smells like leather softener and wood. At the far end of the arena — past booths of silver and turquoise jewelry, paintings of horses and aspens, and vests made of the softest furs — a woman with a long, black ponytail sells blankets and bed sheets in iconic, geometric Pendleton designs. Then she pulls dresses out of a garment sheet. One after another, her colorful designs draw stares from ambling shoppers.
This is Belinda Bullshoe. She recently showed her dresses at New York Fashion Week, and may be the first Native American designer to do so. I pull up a chair, and she tells me her story: