Shiyo nagad, my name is Ilayani Blake Wachacha, and I am the newly crowned 2015-2016 Teen Miss Cherokee. I would like to take a moment to send a sincere thank you to all those who supported me with reaching one of my lifetime goals.
First, I would like to give thanks to our Creator. Without him, I would not be where I am today. Secondly, I would like to say thank you to all of my sponsors: TGC, TERO, Waynesville Automotive, CBC Printing, Cherokee Phoenix Theatre, Crow’s Wrecker Service, Patrick Lambert, Tunney Crowe, Don Rose, Birdtown Council Members (Travis and Albert), Jack and Tootsie Gloyne, my mamaw, and my mom.
Thanks to Nancy and Johnnie Ruth Maney for the beautiful outfits; Karen George for the gorgeous finger-woven belt and garters; Richard Saunooke and Jenea Taylor for the awesome moccasins; Uncle Dan and Aunt Rosie for the feathered cape; Micah Swimmer, Tooter Rose and Day for helping me with my talent; and Chazlynn Blankenship for coaching me throughout the entire pageant process! Also, thanks to Taylor Nelson, Jordan Maney, Tori Teesateskie, Timiyah Brown and Breezy Zollinger for throwing candy for me during the parade and to Steven Straughan for being my escort. I cannot thank you all enough!
I would like to extend a congratulations to 2015 Miss Cherokee Taran Swimmer, 2015 Jr. Miss Cherokee Abigail Taylor, and 2015 Little Miss Cherokee Madison Grace Ledford. I look forward to traveling with you all and representing our Tribe together!
I have had the honor to represent our Tribe by attending the 16th Annual Prayer Breakfast on Oct. 7 which was held at the Cherokee Youth Center, the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cherokee Indian Hospital on Oct. 15, and I also attended Cherokee Day at Mars Hill University on Oct. 24. I look forward to all of the upcoming events and hope I make each of you proud as an ambassador of the EBCI.