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Cassie Melcher's dream

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - With a dream and a U-haul, Cassie Melcher, originally from Flagstaff, Ariz. moved to Los Angeles. In the dream she saw herself moving out west and watching people succeed in the land of fame and fortune. Melcher wanted to touch a part of that vision, believing it could happen for her too.

Melcher, Fort McDowell Apache, was born into the To'tsohnii (Big Water) clan. Her Che' is Ta'chiinii (Red Merging Water) and her paternal grandfather is of the Cochiti tribe. Although it was hard leaving home, with her family, especially her mother opposed to the move, she was determined to seek out what her dream meant.

Transitioning from Flagstaff to one of the most diverse cities in the country, Melcher experienced countless hurdles and many triumphs. She is grateful for all the friends she has made and to those professionals who have guided her. Most of all, Melcher is grateful to her mother who is "the backbone of her life."

Melcher has lived in Los Angeles for two years now and remembers it wasn't easy in the beginning. For her first 11 months in L.A., she knew no one and was scared. But, once she fell into acting and specifically modeling, she became a little more comfortable. She has appeared in countless calendars, ads, magazines and music CDs. One recent modeling gig was at the Native American Grammy Nominee Showcase in New York's Times Square this past February.

Melcher hopes to take modeling as far as she can. This year, Renaissance Indian magazine run by Harrison Lowe, decided to add a Native models section to his online pages. Melcher had lunch with Harrison and talked about a project for youth concerning empowerment for today's Native boys and girls.

Melcher has been actively involved with American Indian youth in Los Angeles and they have embraced her. She feels very blessed to be able to give back to the community.

Melcher has been trying to balance her acting career with her modeling. In 1998, she appeared in "The Spirit of Wonder" and in 1996 "Vanishing Point" starring Viggo Mortensen. She doesn't know how far she can go with acting but Melcher has fun working with all her friends. She believes that she is fulfilling that dream/vision she had several years ago and that it's finally happening for her.

Melcher said, "I feel that all Native people were born with the innate ability to be creative in any medium. Whether it is traditional like beadwork, pow wow dancing, pottery, rug weaving, to more contemporary talents like singing, poetry, creative dance, modeling, photography, acting, multimedia and screenwriting.

"Since I took my first steps, I have been an accomplished pow wow dancer and singer. The style I dance is Southern Traditional Cloth, a smooth and graceful yet dignified dance. I've been asked to participate as a head lady dancer at several local Los Angeles pow wows. I find peace and serenity within the pow wow circle. There is no other place, in space or time, where I feel closest to my true Native self than in the pow wow circle. I sew all of my cloth regalia and I bead everything that I wear, down to my moccasins. I am currently working on a line of traditional and contemporary beaded purses."

Melcher continued, "Within the two years I have lived in Los Angeles, I have been introduced to and accepted into the Native American community. I am always willing and eager to make any contributions be it in the traditional pow wow circle, contemporary or traditional Native arts and creativity, the children and parents I service through my job, or the promotion of education and literature."