Indigenous pageants are not your typical beauty contests. Those crowned queen earn their titles by proudly representing their cultures and proving their abilities as leaders.
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This year, indigenous pageant winners faced a unique challenge. With the novel coronavirus pandemic disproportionately affecting American Indians and Alaska Natives, these women saw the opportunity to make a real difference in their communities. So they did!
In May, the Navajo Nation had the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rate in the U.S. To help stop the spread, Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish stepped into the role of spokesperson for the reservation’s emergency operations center. Not only did she emphasize the important of wearing masks and social distancing, but she helped distribute food and other necessities to areas in need!
Meanwhile, Cheyenne Kippenberger of the Seminole Tribe of Florida agreed to stay on as Miss Indian World for another year. With pageants cancelled, there was nobody to take her place as successor. So she continued working toward two crucial causes: advocating for Native mental health and encouraging indigenous people to participate in the census.
Cheyenne recruited pageant winners from tribes in five different states for a social media campaign in which they wear traditional regalia and pose with “be counted” or “Indian country counts” signs.
“When we receive that proper count, we can receive proper funding for our communities,” she told CNN.
Finally, Lexie James of the Hopi Reservation agreed to keep her title as Miss Native America USA as well. She’s focused her efforts on suicide prevention and helping young students get what they need. Lexie and her friends Have been busy collecting and distributing school supplies to more than 1,000 children in the reservation!
“We wanted to show our students here that they have the support of community members. That they have people who care that they have the necessary supplies or the tools to have a good academic school year,” Lexie said.
Way to support and make your communities proud, ladies! Each of you has and continues to prove that you are more than worthy of your crowns.
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