By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
Due to concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) will not have royalty pageants this fall. The EBCI Pageant Board made that announcement on the afternoon of Thursday, June 25 and stated that the current young ladies representing the Tribe will continue their reigns for another year.
“I wish to thank our reigning royalty for serving our community during this unprecedented moment, as beacons of grace and humility in times which may seem uncertain,” said Yona Wade, EBCI Pageant Board chairperson. “The Pageant Board asks that each of you continue to do your part to protect our community and culture by wearing your mask, washing your hands/sanitizing, and waiting six feet apart. Together, we have the power to ensure the safety of our community for generations to come.”
The current royalty includes: Miss Cherokee 2019-21 Amy West, Teen Miss Cherokee 2019-21 Haley Smith, Junior Miss Cherokee 2019-21 Nevayah Panther, and Little Miss Cherokee 2019-21 Georjia Girty.
As nearly all events locally and regionally have been cancelled this spring and summer, the royalty has not been able to have the experiences of representing the Tribe as past royalty have.
“The first few months of my reign were exciting!” said West. “I was busy meeting new people, traveling, and sharing our culture. Once we were faced with COVID-19, all of these things had to cease in order to keep us safe. Despite all of the uncertainties, I am humbled to be able to continue my reign until 2021. I am very excited to see what the next year holds and to be able to experience this with three young women who are more like my sisters.”
West added, “I will continue to hold this title with integrity and represent this Tribe to the best of my abilities. I would like to thank the EBCI Pageant Board for allowing us all to have this opportunity. I also want to thank my family and friends for supporting me during this time and continuing to support me as we move forward. This decision to continue my reign came easy to me. I feel that, as Miss Cherokee, it is my duty to continue to hold this title and represent my Tribe. God has truly blessed me, and I am looking forward to upholding my title.”
Panther commented, “I would like to start by saying how humbled I am to have been asked to represent my Tribe and continue my reign for another year. Holding this title is a huge honor for myself and my family. I am excited to continue this journey with the girls who have become like sisters to me. Although we are unsure of how things will be in the coming months, I am working to find ways to complete a few community service projects while adhering to the ‘new normal’ and following all guidelines put forth.”
She went on to say, “I would like to thank the EBCI Pageant Board for their continued support and, most importantly, my family for always sticking by my side and supporting me in all that I do. I love you all.”
Girty said she is also very excited to have the opportunity to extend her reign. “It was such an honor to be chosen as Little Miss Cherokee. The first four months were great until the coronavirus put the world to a stop. I was meeting a lot of new friends, and the other girls were becoming like big sisters to me. We missed seeing each other but understood the importance of keeping everyone safe. I look forward to a chance to continue our reign together, share fun times, and make new memories when it is safe to do so. Sgi to the Pageant Board for this opportunity. I am as excited as a firework to continue my reign for another year.”
Smith noted, “Siyo nigada. I would first like to send my deepest condolences to the families that have been affected by COVID-19. This is such a rough time we are in, but coming together is one way we can overcome it. I have been practicing the three Ws to help flatten the curve as we all should in this trying time.”
She added, “I am very excited about being given the opportunity to spend another year serving as Teen Miss Cherokee with my royalty sisters. Thank you everyone for the endless support, especially my family and friends.”