By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
On the first night of the 106th Cherokee Indian Fair, Mystikal Spirit Walela Armachain was crowned the 52nd Miss Cherokee. Armachain, 18, a member of the Deer Clan from the Big Cove Community, won the pageant held on the beautiful fall evening of Tuesday, Oct. 2 at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds.
Melah Perkins, 19, a member of the Deer Clan from the Wolftown Community, was named first runner-up, and Brianna Jumper, 21, a member of the Long Hair Clan from the Wolftown Community, was named second runner-up.
Armachain spoke about the drug recovery efforts in the community for her platform and said she has teamed up with the RezHOPE group in the past few months. “We went throughout the community to raise awareness for our future. I know what it’s like to come from a family of drug addiction. Believe me, it was not easy at all.”
She went on to say, “I want to make a change for our younger generation to understand that we are better, stronger, and braver than any drug that could harm our people. We will stand for drug recovery to build a better future for our people, for our Tribe…”
Perkins began her platform speech on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), “Four out of five Native American women experience violence today. This is a scary statistic that should not be taken lightly. But, unfortunately, in the United States it is. In Washington state, Native Americans make up 2 percent of the population but make up 5 percent of the missing persons cases. I strongly believe that it is way past due that the public be aware of these horrific statistics.”
Wearing a red dress in honor of the MMIW movement, she commented, “In 2016, five thousand two hundred and seventeen (5,217) Native American women experienced violence. Eighty-four (84) percent of Native American and Alaska Native women experienced violence. Murder rates for Native American women are ten times the national average…I plan to use my title to advocate for those who have lost their voices.”
“Honor and respect, I associate these words with our tribal elders,” said Jumper who spoke on the importance of caring for the elderly in the Cherokee community. “Our senior citizens have knowledge that is imperative to our culture and traditions. Tribal elders are the reason we are here, and we owe them our thanks.”
She added, “We, as Cherokee people, need to realize that our elders carry our most important information regarding our past our future.”
The talent portion of this year’s pageant was varied with Armachain playing a traditional flute and telling the origin story of the flute, Perkins performing the Cherokee Knee-Deep dance, and Jumper demonstrating how to properly clean a fish.
During the pageant, nine former Miss Cherokees were honored with embroidered sashes commemorating their reign including: the late Dorothy McCoy Smith (1963-64), Faren Sanders Crews (1966-67), Penny Otter-Huntsman (1968-69), Patty Grant-Edgemon (1969-70), Loretta Hornbuckle-Kirby (1970-71), Shirley Swayney-Cloer (1971-72), Pearl Bradley (1972-73), Rowena Teesatuskie (1973-74), and Lawanna Cooper-Almond (1974-75).
All former Miss Cherokees were also honored on stage during the event. Armachain was also named Miss Congeniality and Jumper won the Most Photogenic Contest.