She's an enrolled member of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe in Northern
Wisconsin and is dedicated to sharing her passion and culture with
communities far and wide. Michelle spends much of her time in communities
throughout the Northern Great Lakes, near her home in Northern Michigan
with her husband and two children. And through much of the school
year, she's instructing her N8V (Native) Dance Fitness course, with
learners as young as 6 months old.
Reed (right) and the N8V Dance Fitness Class in Hannahville,
Over the past several years, Michelle has been amazing people
with her intricate and one-of-a-kind creations making her waiting
list for custom orders years in the making. She's a multi-talented
artist whose journey has been a lifetime in the making and has been
taking a turn that aims to expand even her own horizons.
Her most recent developments in her career have blossomed three
separate business initiatives: fitness, production, and fashion.
Here we learn more about Michelle, her journey, and her future.
and appliqué boys dance outfit made for Niache Duncan
When asked if self-taught, Michelle responds with an enthusiastic
definitely not. She credits her mother, Linda Batiste-Cohen for
teaching her much of what she knows to this day. She recalls how
hard her mother worked while she was younger, always creating and
always beading. "I always wanted to be like my mom," says Michelle.
beaded vest made for Ton Rolin
Revealing an upbringing with no running water or electricity,
Michelle remembers always feeling positive and loved among her family,
but when going to school near Marquette, Michigan she was treated
poorly by her non-Native classmates. "Whenever I went to school
I was treated poorly for being Native," says Michelle. "The real
world was torture for being Native."
floral vest made for Darren Thompson, Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe
And it is just that upbringing that inspires Michelle to do
what she does for each and every project. To this day, Michelle
Reed's fashion and artwork grace many stages, powwows, and red carpet
events from some of Indian Country's most prestigious events to
the Grammy Awards. So, of course, her demand and recognition is
something she never imagined when she started making regalia years
ago. Emotions that come immediately to mind for Michelle are honored,
happy, and privileged.
Her focus is keeping simple. "You can change someone's life
by doing simple things," she says. "My goal is to share my craft
with others so that they can make things for their families."
Over the last several years she's been in various communities
throughout the Great Lakes teaching communities how to bead, sew,
and make regalia. Witnessing people of all ages make their first
item is always really special says Michelle. It's what keeps her
busy, focused, and dedicated to her culture and business.
Reed Designs women's purses
With such demand, it can be difficult to imagine how much else
she can focus on, but her goals with her future willno doubtinspire
many. She's aiming to shorten her custom orders so she can start
producing her merchandise, which includes custom handmade purses
and other fashion materials.
Sky Native American Dance Troupe, from left to right: Shane
Mitchell, Michelle Reed, Lauren Reed, Hunter Reed, Chad Reed
and Ronnie Preston
Four years ago she formed a dance company called Woodland Sky
Native American Dance Company with Shane Mitchell, another champion
dancer who's also a Lac du Flambeau tribal member. Together they
strive to share the culture and dances of Wisconsin's first peoples.
Among many who are taking note of her production is Native American
Tourism of Wisconsin, an intertribal organization focused on promoting
and highlighting the culture and people of Wisconsin's American
"Showing dances is really rewarding," says Michelle. "Whenever
I think of being happy, I think of dancing and it's my goal to share
the gift of dance with as many people as possible."
"We knew right away that we wanted to work with Michelle and
the Woodland Sky Native American Dance Troupe," said Native American
Tourism of Wisconsin Director Apache Danforth. "We have similar
initiates to educate people and share our songs and dances in a
culturally appropriate manner with people who are eager to learn."
Her dance company is loaded with talented people who are just
as dedicated as her, aiming to provide a positive, educational experience
for audiences and is only increasing in demand. Their work as a
group has been featured at various state fairs throughout the Great
Lakes, the Indian Summer Festival in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, performing
at half-time for the Green Bay Packers, and for the world-renowned
New Orleans Jazz Festival.
Reed performing the Eagle Dance on stage
Aside from her dance troupe, she's seen regularly as the lead
female dancer for Bruléan award-winning band and production
also dedicated to healing the gap between Native and Non-Native
cultures. She dances far and wide, from coast to coast regularly
throughout the year and teaches people of all ages to dance. "As
I got older, I started teaching people how to dance," says Michelle.
"When I started seeing how people would feel when I helped create
an outfit for them made me feel like what I was doing all these
years had a purpose."
Now, with several years under her belt with her dance troupe,
she regularly invites youth from her dance classes to join her production.
Seeing the pride and confidence in her youth is what all her struggles,
efforts, and sacrifices have been about she says.
"Seeing how proud our youth are in their culture is what all
this work is for," says Michelle.
Reed and her son Hunter Reed hoop dancing for a school assembly
in Crandon, Wisconsin
While a future can be difficult to predict, her success and
hard work is definitely paying off and will no doubt be a factor
in everything she strives for. Michelle is aiming to create more
opportunities for her dance company, merchandising, and fitness
classes. She hopes to add additional talent and a Native American
flute player to contribute to her storytelling only increasing the
demand for talent, paving a path for the next generation to strive
for. If you'd like to follow this dedicated talent and a hard worker,
you can do so via Facebook via Woodland
Sky Native American Dance Company or her personal page at Michelle
But, still to this day, her personal goal is that one day she
will be like her mom.
Reed, Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe