Name: Delaena R. Uses Knife
Years of Cosplay: 3
Tribe: Cheyenne River Sioux
Location: Rapid City, South Dakota






Delaena R. Uses Knife is a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux and currently working on earning her degree in Chemistry. She has a natural propensity for the sciences, which is why it is no surprise to learn that she was named a NASA Student Ambassador. But in addition to promoting and representing natives in STEM fields, Delaena is also very artistic. She’s an accomplished hoop dancer, a mixed media artist, a former model/designer, and a pretty awesome cosplayer.

Cosplaying is a time-honored tradition in geek culture. It allows you to step outside of yourself; to test and push the boundaries of your creativity; and showcase your love for the characters that you choose to become. We are proud to present Delaena as our May Cosplayer of the Month.


How long have you been cosplaying?

I started cosplaying in 2014 and attended a nerd convention called SoDak Con in Rapid City. I had never attended a comic convention before then because South Dakota is limited to such events.

How did you get into Cosplaying?

12998589_463917107138233_9099481003744488390_nIt started in 204, I heard about an upcoming local convention in SD. It became a personal mission to hand make the Skyrim’s character Nightingale. I used my beadwork thread, faux black leather, and hard felt to create the mask. My father and I made the nightingale bow. Anything else, like the armor was made from scratch and hand sewn together.

The day of the convention, I stayed up all night fixing the last-minute details. I entered my costume into the intermediate category. Some of costumes were very impressive and I didn’t know if I had a chance of winning. My work paid off because the judges announced my name; I stood in front of 300 people as the intermediate award winner. From the moment on, I’ve challenged myself to do more complex art work and improve daily.

Homemade Cosplay or Bought/Commissioned Cosplay?

I love homemade cosplay. Every piece challenges you as an artist and architect because you’re engineering the costume to fit your body.

What was the last convention you attended in cosplay?

The last convention was wizard world Cleveland, Ohio. It was a bucket list dream come true. I met my favorite power ranger, Jason David Frank. He also gave expensive merchandise to native students to inspire them to stay in school.

What is cosplay to you?

My perspective. Cosplay is diversity and it gives you a chance to explore the imagination It’s more than a costume. You feel like you’re a part of that universe whether it’s Batman, Fall Out, or your favorite Hollywood icon.

When you’re cosplaying, are you You or the character?

If I’m competing in Wizard World Comic Con for the master class category, the judges require the character to be on point and the costume to be perfect. In those circumstances, I think it’s necessary to act like the character. They look for details, design, acting, and your own signature as an artist.

When do you find yourself cosplaying?

When I’m inspired by a character or I want to challenge myself as an artist. If there’s a need for characters to greet kids at hospitals, parks, or local event. I attend such events to bring smiles. You would be surprised by how many more adults love Power Rangers than little kids. I’m working on the Ant-Man helmet, a female predator, and the Green Ranger suit. I love it.

I made a White Ranger costume. I wore it different events, too. My mother asked me to surprise her 3rd grade classroom for their Valentine’s Day party. This elementary school is located 2 hours away on the reservation. It was the least expected place to see a Power Ranger. When I arrived there, you should have seen the happy faces on these native kids. I told my mother, this is why I do this.


When it comes to cosplaying, do you add native flair to your characters?

I’m careful to keep regalia and costumes separate because of mascot debate. The only time I felt inspired to include native flair is the masquerade royalty contest. I made this felt mask and started beading a Victorian design on it. I knew nobody would have the same mask. I, also, designed the ball gown and gold corset.

Are you into comics and gaming?

I’m into the Ant-Man, Green Lantern, and Batman comics. I’m not into gaming as much, but if I see a character I like it does inspire me to create the character.

What does indigenerdity mean to you?

Wow, I never heard of this term before. I like it! Indigenerdity. Indigenous, generation, and nerdy? That sums everything in my life as an artist, inventor, hoop dancer, singer, and a NASA scholar.


Is cosplay something that you see yourself still doing in 10 years?

In 10 years, I can see myself owning an art studio and working for Hollywood. I love making costumes and helping other people realize their artistic potential.

What are some of the challenges that you face as a native cosplayer?

Racism, criticism, and lack of knowledge. Those that don’t understand it will be afraid of it. But I just reflect on the words of Vincent Van Gogh, “If you hear a voice within you say, ‘you can’t paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

If you are interested or would like to recommend a cosplayer for our monthly profile, send us an email at Please include a short bio, tribal affiliation, and a few cosplay photos.

About The Author

Johnnie Jae

Johnnie Jae is of the Otoe-Missouria and Choctaw tribes of Oklahoma. She is the managing partner of Native Max Magazine, founder of A Tribe Called Geek, and contributor to Native News Online. She is the manager and producer for the Success Native Style Radio Network, where she hosts the Indigenous Flame and A Tribe Called Geek radio shows. She is also a founding board member of Not Your Mascots. Known as the "Brown Ball of Fury," Jae seamlessly shifts from humor and pop culture to advocacy and digital media, which has made her a much-sought after speaker and commentator. Her work has been discussed in many media outlets, such as Indian Country Today, ATPN, CBC, USA Today, BBC, Global Post, Women’s E-News, and Upworthy. She has been a guest on several radio shows, including Native America Calling, Native Trailblazers, BBC World Have Your Say and ICI Radio.

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