Arts & Entertainment

Puyallup News: Project Runway contestant isn't enrolled in tribe

The following story was written and reported by Matt Nagle, the managing editor of The Puyallup Tribal News. All content © Puyallup Tribal News.

Some work by Korina Emmerich, who was eliminated from season 13 of Project Runway. Photo from Project Runway

‘Project Runway’ contestant claims false membership in Puyallup Tribe
By Matt Nagle

A popular reality TV show now airing on the Lifetime Network includes one contestant that identifies as Native American, but she claims to be Puyallup and here is where the problem comes in.

For those who don’t follow this program, “Project Runway” is a fashion-focused contest in which chosen clothing designers from across the country square off (or “sew off” in this case) against each other to make the most impressive creations. Under the eye of three celebrity judges, one by one each of the contestants is eliminated until one remains as the winner. Korina Emmerich was eliminated in episode 11 last week.

Now in its 13th season, “Project Runway” enjoys a wide following and gets its fair share of buzz on the Internet, including news articles about contestant Korina Emmerich being a Puyallup Tribal Member, as she says she is. However, according to the Tribe’s Enrollment Department there is no record of her or her family in the Puyallup tribal enrollment rolls going all the way back to the original 1929 enrollment roster.

Puyallup Tribal Council Member Maggie Edwards was the first to learn of this situation and bring it to the attention of the Puyallup Tribal News.

“In the season opener, Korina self-identified as a Native American of the Puyallup Tribe,” Maggie Edwards said. “I double-checked with Enrollment, when the Native Internet news started carrying the story. She is not on our rolls, therefore not an enrolled member. It would be one thing to call herself a descendent of a Puyallup, if she were even that, but she clearly says she is a Puyallup.”

The Puyallup Tribal News attempted to speak with Korina Emmerich to discuss her lineage and possible Puyallup connections but she did not respond.

Related Stories:
Puyallup fashion designer survives 2nd week on Project Runway (08/01)
Puyallup fashion designer competes for prize in Project Runway (7/28)

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