By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Destiny Siweumptewa was crowned the 2018-19 Junior Miss Cherokee during last year’s Cherokee Indian Fair. This past year has been an exciting ride filled with new experiences and learning opportunities while representing not only the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians but also another part of her heritage – the Hopi Tribe of Arizona.
“It’s been good,” she said of her year-long reign, “the Teen Miss (Destiny Mills) and Little Miss (Morgan Hernandez) are my sisters. I like going to the senior centers to visit the elders and going to various places to represent our Tribe.”
She has traveled extensively to events in western North Carolina as well as traveling to places such as Washington, DC; Atlanta, Ga.; Tahlequah, Okla. for the Cherokee Nation Holidays; and to Arizona to visit her Hopi people.
Siweumptewa, a member of the Long Hair Clan from the Birdtown Community, is also a member of the Sun Forehead Clan of the Hopi. She enjoyed her visits to the Hopi reservation where she met with school children, elders, and many community members. “Getting to know them was fun and getting to see the elders was good. It’s a lot different from here to there because we’re more privileged. And, we’re close together and their tribe is spread out in different places. It was really cool seeing that.”
She said spending time at Hopi was a nice, learning and sharing opportunity. “Learning about the culture was really cool because I didn’t know what clan I was from, but then I found out I was part of the Sun Forehead Clan. When you’re down there, they’re more like family – your aunts are like your mother and your cousins are like your siblings. They’ll have gatherings that will go on throughout the day.”
Siweumptewa said her reign as Junior Miss Cherokee has been a learning and eye-opening experience. “One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I am really, really confident, but I didn’t know that…I’ve grown up a lot.”
When asked what advice she would give to this year’s Junior Miss Cherokee contestants, she noted, “Practice all you can and work on your public speaking. That’s one thing I went in with not much experience in because I was always really, really shy and I didn’t like to talk to people. But, during this reign, I’ve had to talk to a lot of people and get up in front of a lot of people and talk, and that’s made me more confident in myself. Just practice and get to know your culture.”
Looking forward to her future, Siweumptewa noted that she has aspirations to attend Clemson University and study sports medicine. A freshman at Cherokee High School, she is active in HOSA and Upward Bound as well as volleyball and cheerleading.
Jennifer Siweumptewa, Destiny’s mother, said it takes a lot of dedication for someone to take on the title of Junior Miss Cherokee. “It has been a good experience because I’ve gotten to share it with her. I’ve watched her grow, and she’s really opened up and become more confident. I can see it each time that she gets up in front of people, she’s sure of herself now.”
She had these encouraging words for families with young girls considering running for a title. “Just put your kid out there as much as you can…make sure that they get involved in their community and that they get out there and they meet their elders…our elders are very cultural and they have a lot of good knowledge behind them.”
Jennifer Siweumptewa had this final thought on her daughter’s reign, “I think it has made her a better, more well-rounded person.”
The 2019-20 Junior Miss Cherokee will be crowned during the pageant which is being held on Thursday, Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds amphitheater.