New Cherokee Royalty crowned for 2023-24

by Oct 9, 2023NEWS ka-no-he-da0 comments


One Feather Reporter


CHEROKEE, N.C. – The new Little Miss, Junior Miss, Teen Miss and Miss Cherokee were crowned at the 111th Annual Cherokee Indian Fair in the long-awaited return of pageants at the Fair. Among large crowds on the evenings of Tuesday, Oct. 3, Thursday, Oct. 5, and Friday, Oct. 6, contestants vied for the titles. After fierce competition at every level of pageantry, Rhiannon Postoak was named Little Miss Cherokee, Kennedy Talissa Moore was named Junior Miss Cherokee, Kyndra Postoak was named Teen Miss Cherokee, and Scarlett “Gigage” Guy was named Miss Cherokee.

Scarlett “Gigage” Guy was named 2023-24 Miss Cherokee during a pageant held at the 111th Cherokee Indian Fair on the evening of Friday, Oct. 6. (BROOKLYN BROWN/One Feather photos)

Scarlett won over hearts with her expert use of the Cherokee language in a crowd filled with her peers and mentors from the Cherokee Language Master Apprentice Program (CLMAP).

Rhiannon and Kyndra are sisters who received the heartwarming honor of serving alongside each other for 2023-24 as Little Miss and Teen Miss Cherokee.

Kennedy is a fan-favorite, receiving congratulatory remarks from hundreds of people in the Cherokee community who have had the pleasure of watching her grow in academics and athletics at Cherokee Middle School.

The emcee for the pageants was Jais Crusenberry, who also served as a delightful comic relief. Jarrett Wildcat served as storyteller and flute player for the pageants as well. During the Little Miss Cherokee Pageant on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 5, four contestants vied for the title: Penelope Stamper, Mattie Awee Moore, Mali Smith, and Rhiannon Postoak. Dr. Barbara Duncan and the Warriors of Anikituhwa were also honored on Thursday evening for their work in researching and revitalizing the 18th century Cherokee style that is now the traditional dress of Miss Cherokee ambassadors.

The Little Miss pageant began with a choice of wear that represented something important to the contestants. Contestant #1 Penelope Stamper chose to share her love of volleyball by wearing her volleyball uniform. She added that she wishes to be a volleyball coach one day. Contestant #2 Mattie Awee Moore wore her 18th century Cherokee traditional wear to show that she is a young and powerful Cherokee girl. She added that she wants to be an art teacher. Contestant #3 Mali Smith wore her cheerleading uniform because she wants to make others smile through cheer. Contestant #4 Rhiannon Postoak wore her foraging outfit that protects her when she goes into the woods to harvest as her ancestors did.

Kyndra Postoak was named 2023-24 Teen Miss Cherokee during a pageant on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 3.

For the talent portion, Penelope sang the wood gathering song. Mattie performed the bear dance. Mali told the legend of the race between Daksi (Turtle) and Tsisdu (Rabbit). Rhiannon, read her bilingual book, “Our Friends”, in Cherokee and English, which featured several animals on adventures. The final portion of the pageant was Traditional Dress.

Mattie Awee Moore was named third runner-up. Mali Smith was named second runner-up. Penelope Stamper was named first runner-up. 7-year-old Rhiannon Postoak, a member of the Long Hair Clan from the Wolftown community, was crowned Little Miss Cherokee 2023-24, as well as Miss Congeniality and Most Photogenic. She is the daughter of Amy and Johnny Postoak.

The Junior Miss Cherokee pageant was also held on Thursday, Oct. 5. The three contestants were Aria Toineeta, Genevieve Raya and Kennedy Talissa Moore.  They also began the evening with their choice of clothing. Contestant #1 Aria Toineeta chose her softball uniform for the life lessons she learns from the game. Contestant #2 Genevieve Raya chose her Wolftown clothing, including a Wofltown stickball shirt and ribbon skirt, to symbolize strength, family, community and tradition. Contestant #3 Kennedy Moore wore scrubs with Cherokee design elements. She hopes that one day her scrubs will be worn by medical staff at the Cherokee Indian Hospital. She added that she wants to have her own orthodontic practice.

For the talent segment of the evening, Aria presented a history of Cherokee sports and games, including stickball, chunky and the cast iron lid toss. Genevieve shared the Legend of the Cornbead. Moore talked about her experience dancing at stomp, starting at the age of 3, and its importance to her Cherokee identity. “When I was 5 years old, I told my mom, ‘I’m 50 percent black, 50 percent white, 100 percent Cherokee,” Moore said.

Genevieve Raya was named second runner-up. Aria Toineeta was named first runner-up as well as Miss Congeniality and Most Photogenic. 12-year-old Kennedy Talissa Moore, a member of the Bird Clan from the Big Y community, was crowned the 2023-2024 Junior Miss Cherokee. She is the daughter of Brittany and Spencer Moore.

The Teen Miss Cherokee pageant was held on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 3. The four contestants were Loshi Frady, Kyndra Postoak, Makaula Lambert and Erin Whitney Rogers. The contestants began with the public speaking portion of the pageant. Contestant #1 Loshi Frady spoke on the importance of mental health for Native youth, providing harrowing statistics on the fatal effects of untreated mental health issues in teens. Contestant #2 Rhiannon Postoak shared therapeutic options benefiting mental health. She quoted powwow dancing, art, music and sports as her own therapeutic outlet for her mental health. Contestant #3 Makaula Lambert spoke about the importance of cultural arts like fashion and dance to Cherokee cultural revitalization, specifically highlighting the Museum of the Cherokee People as a cultural aid for the Cherokee community. Contestant #4 Erin Whitney Rogers gave an impassioned speech about studying Cherokee history and practicing Cherokee culture, quoting the theme of the fair, “They Made the Way.”

Kennedy Talissa Moore was named 2023-24 Junior Miss Cherokee during a pageant on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 5.

In the talent portion, Loshi performed the peace pipe dance in honor of her mental health platform. Kyndra presented Cherokee instruments and discussed the importance of Cherokee music, finishing her talent with a beautiful song on the violin. Makaula performed a modern dance to the Legend of the How the Milky Way Came to Be. Erin Whitney Rogers performed the wood gathering dance. The final portion of the pageant was traditional wear. Kyndra wore 18th century Cherokee women’s regalia, including a yellow linen trade shirt with black, red and white floral designs, a brown turkey feather cape and a white wool linen wrap skirt. She chose the color white as a symbol of peace for the Cherokee people.

Loshi Frady was named third runner-up as well as Miss Congeniality. Makaula Lambert was named second runner-up. Erin Whitney Rogers was named first runner-up. 15-year-old Kyndra Postoak, a member of the Long Hair Clan from the Wolftown Community, was named the 2023-24 Teen Miss Cherokee. Postoak was also named Most Photogenic. She is the daughter of Amy and Johnny Postoak.

Rhiannon Postoak was named 2023-24 Little Miss Cherokee during a pageant on the evening of Thursday, Oct. 5.

The Miss Cherokee Pageant was held on the evening of Friday, Oct. 6. The contestants were Aiyana Lambert, Shyreece Willaims, Marcela Garcia, Scarlett Guy and Auylin Reece Welch. The pageant began with a speaking portion. Contestant #1 Aiyana Lambert shared the personal story of her grandmother’s battle with cancer, advocating for cancer awareness in the Cherokee community. Contestant #2 Shyreece Williams spoke about the Indian Child Welfare Act and the dark history of displaced Native children. Contestant #3 Marcela Garcia spoke on the Every Child Matters movement and the importance of emotionally available caregivers for Native children. Contestant #4 Scarlett Guy spoke passionately about Cherokee language and culture revitalization and the to-hi (balance) both can bring to the Cherokee people. Contestant #5 Auylin Reece Welch shared a personal story about her mother’s battle with mental health and spoke about the importance of addressing mental health issues in the Cherokee community.

In the talent portion of the pageant, Aiyana performed the wood gathering dance. Shyreece presented on the history of basket babies and the theft of Native children from Native communities by the Catholic Church and U.S. government entities. Marcela presented her paintings depicting the Legend of the Cherokee Rose and performed the song Guide Me Jehovah in Cherokee language, which was a common hymn on the Trail of Tears. Scarlett presented her handmade Cherokee crafts and clothing pieces and presented her crafting process fully in Cherokee language. The final portion of the pageant was traditional wear. Scarlett’s most outstanding traditional item of clothing was her wrap skirt which featured beading she performed herself.

Marcela Garcia was named second runner-up and Miss Congeniality. Auylin Reece Welch was named first runner-up and Most Photogenic. 23-year-old Scarlett Guy, from the Painttown Community, was named the 2023-24 Miss Cherokee. She is the daughter of Kelly Ravert and Les Guy.