By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Destiny Siweumptewa, 14, a member of the Long Hair Clan from the Birdtown Community, was named 2018-19 Junior Miss Cherokee during a pageant held at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on the night of Thursday, Oct. 4. Nevayah Panther, a member of the Bird Clan from the Birdtown and Big Cove Communities was named first runner-up, and Jenna Cruz, a member of the Long Hair Clan from the Birdtown Community, was named second runner-up.
Siweumptewa was named Miss Congeniality and Janna Girty, a member of the Wolf Clan from the Birdtown Community, was named Most Photogenic.
The young ladies introduced themselves wearing outfits of their choice, each describing why they chose their particular dress.
Cruz wore a 16th century style Cherokee outfit consisting of a twined skirt and drop-shoulder feather cape. “Throughout the years, our people have changed, evolved, and modernized, but one thing that hasn’t changed and that’s the Kituwah blood running through our veins. We are here on our homeland with our culture waiting to be carried on. Through oppression and colonization, our culture had disappeared. If we continue to stand together, we can revitalize all that was lost.”
Girty, wearing a jacket emblazoned with syllabary characters, said she wore it to honor those, including herself, who have gone through speech therapy. She noted that the letter ‘r’ gave her difficulties. “I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want to read out loud or talk in front of a class or pronounce my last name. After I spent two years working with my speech pathologist Allie, I strengthened and retrained my tongue.”
Rayven Hughes, a member of the Wild Potato Clan from the Birdtown Community, wore a doctor’s coat. “I aspire to become a medical doctor to help our people.”
Panther wore a brightly colored outfit covered with words. “My outfit of choice reflects the strong characteristics that make me the young lady that I am today. The words on my outfit reflect who I am and are what makes me what I am now. I am bold and strong. I am a daughter and a sister. I am blessed and unique. I am funny and smart. I am cute and stubborn. I am sporty and artsy. All these words make up who I am and so much more.”
Siweumptewa wore a red jingle dress and commented, “It represents three important things to me – my Cherokee and Hopi native culture, my family, and my love of art. In both native cultures, red stands for fire and my red dress represents the fire that burns inside of me for success. All of the other colors hold special meanings to both tribes. It took approximately 25 hours to complete my dress. One of my greatest memories is sitting at my great-grandmother’s feet placing ribbon on all 200 jingles. Every time I move or dance in my jingle dress, it takes me back to that day.”
During the talent portion of the pageant, Cruz demonstrated how to do the Cherokee Pottery Friendship design through a painting, Girty explained traditional Cherokee basketry techniques, Hughes sang a song in the Cherokee language, Panther performed the Cherokee Peace Pipe Dance, and Siweumptewa sang “Amazing Grace” in the Cherokee language and performed it in American Sign Language.
Former junior pageant title holders were honored during Thursday’s pageant including: Keyonna Hornbuckle Owle, Little Miss Cherokee 1989; Consie Blankenship Girty, Little Miss Cherokee 1986 and Junior Miss Cherokee 1991; Sharon Queen, Junior Miss Cherokee 1992; Amanda Wolfe Moore, Little Miss Cherokee 1993, Junior Miss Cherokee 1997, and Miss Cherokee 2008; Kara Martin, the only person to hold all four titles, Little Miss Cherokee 1996, Junior Miss Cherokee 1999, Teen Miss Cherokee 2004, and Miss Cherokee 2007; and Samantha Crowe-Hernandez, Junior Miss Cherokee 1998, Miss Cherokee 2005.
Like the other junior pageants, Siweumptewa was crowned with a former Miss Cherokee’s crown – that of Miss Cherokee 2008 Amanda Wolfe Moore.