At first glance, 21-year-old model Haatepah seems to be living a fairy tale of the digital age. After getting discovered on Instagram as a teenager, the Bay Area local moved to Los Angeles to pursue his dream of modeling and has since posed for the likes of Nike, Uniqlo and fashion photographer Damon Baker — not to mention signed a contract with Storm Management, the modeling agency where Kate Moss got her start.
But even the briefest survey of Haatepah’s online presence makes clear that the young model is intent on being known for more than his striking features. As the descendent of Kumeyaay, Cahuilla, Apache, Yaqui and Chichimeca-Guamares peoples, Haatepah has long prioritized advocating for Native communities.
“A lot of people have been taught for hundreds of years to kind of hate themselves for being Indigenous,” he says on the phone. “I feel like it’s important that people reclaim who they are.” . . .