The Santa Fe Indian Market is the largest Native American art market in the world and has been running for nearly 100 years. It includes a prestigious juried art show that attracts as many as 150,000 visitors from many countries. At the most recent event, a tribal employee and cultural teacher was on hand to sell some of her self-made products.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation tribal citizen Leslie Deer is the production assistant at the CPN Cultural Heritage Center. She started making apparel art for herself in 1990 and began producing items for others six years later. She makes women’s dresses, jumpsuits, skirts, tops and suits. Additionally, she creates her own designs to print on fabric to use for her garments.

“My art is influenced by my Native culture and traditions, my environment, my life experiences, and my upbringing in an urban Native community in the San Francisco Bay Area,” Deer said. “As for my heritage, it’s who I am so it’s infused in everything I do. I have an affinity for curvilinear designs and spirals. If you look at our Mvskoke art and the art of our ancestors – the Mound builder culture – that is exactly what you will see.”

Deer – who describes her garments as authentic heirlooms and storytellers – participated in the market for the first time in more than a decade. She nearly sold out of her apparel art.

“I feel like I was well-received. It was a very encouraging opportunity and experience. I hope that people will envision themselves wearing my art and take an interest in Southeastern Indian art. Beyond that, I hope to inspire a younger generation in my community to learn more about their culture, to sew, and imagine themselves as designers.”

For more information or to purchase these one-of-a-kind pieces of wearable art, contact Deer at