NDSU student wins largest Native American pageant

 By Grace Lyden, Inforum.com

Cheyenne Brady, a 22-year-old senior at North Dakota State University, was crowned Miss Indian World at the Gathering of Nations powwow on April 25
Cheyenne Brady, a 22-year-old senior at North Dakota State University, was crowned Miss Indian World at the Gathering of Nations powwow on April 25

FARGO — All her life, Cheyenne Brady has watched the annual crowning of Miss Indian World.

“It’s a role I have aspired to being since I was a young girl,” said the North Dakota State University senior. “Granted, I didn’t know the significance then, but when you’re about 7 or 8 and you’re just infatuated with all these girls with the pretty crown, you just want to be them.”

On April 25, that dream came true.

As her family members screamed from the crowd, Brady, 22, was named the winner of the largest and most prestigious pageant for Native American women. She still can hardly believe it.

“Sometimes I want to cry, and then I’m so excited, and then I look at the crown and I’m like, ‘Is this really mine?’ The first few days, I felt like I was in a dream,” she said.

The five-day competition takes place every year at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, N.M., one of the largest powwows in North America, and includes five categories: essay, interview, public speaking, dance and traditional talent.

“Our tradition is incorporated into every part of the pageant,” said Brady, who is from New Town on the Fort Berthold reservation of western North Dakota. “A big aspect of the pageant is knowing who you are, knowing your culture, knowing your history, knowing a bit of your language.”

Brady is a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, and also represents the Cheyenne, Pawnee, Otoe, Kiowa Apache, Hidatsa, Arikara and Tonkawa tribes.

For her talent, she told a true story about a young girl who was killed carrying a white flag at the Sand Creek massacre of 1864, when the U.S. Army killed about 200 people in a Cheyenne and Arapaho village.

“It was a piece of culture that I feel like is not talked about enough, and that’s why I wanted to present that story,” Brady said.

Out of the 21 contestants, Brady also won the awards for dance and essay — just like the first time she entered, in 2011.

“In the moment, I was like, ‘Oh gosh, I’ve been here before,’ but luckily I did better in the other three (categories),” she said.

When Brady didn’t win as an 18-year-old, she took a step back to learn more about her culture and who she was. Now, she’s ready to inspire others to do the same.

Over the next year, she’ll travel around to speak at conferences and powwows. She’s already booked to speak at a tribal college commencement.

“My primary goal is to encourage Native Americans to be who they are, learn their culture, be excited about it and be anything they want to be,” she said.

In the fall, Brady will start a graduate program at NDSU in American Indian public health.

“My people face many, many health issues,” she said. “Diabetes is an epidemic among Native Americans. If I can make any difference in that area, I’ll feel amazing.”

BIA: Who’s your leader? C&A per cap checks on hold

December 4, 2013


CONCHO, Okla. – Thanks to their tribes’ protracted leadership dispute, Cheyenne and Arapaho citizens will not be getting their December per capita payments on time.

According to a letter obtained by the Native Times on Nov. 26, the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ agency office in Concho denied a drawdown request by the Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell administration from two of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes’ trust accounts. Among the withheld $3 million in lease funds are $1.6 million in oil and gas leases that provides an annual December per capita payment for tribal citizens.

“Regrettably, the Concho agency cannot honor your request for federal action as of this date because the agency does not know with certainty the identities of the validly seated governor, lieutenant governor and members of the legislature for the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes,” agency superintendent Betty Tippeconnie wrote in the letter, dated Nov. 21.

The tribe has been dealing with a constitutional crisis for almost three years, with both Prairie Chief-Boswell and Leslie Wandrie-Harjo each claiming to be the legitimate governor. The two women ran for office and were inaugurated together in January 2010, but their alliance dissolved within a year over a series of allegations. Since the women’s political partnership fell apart, each has formed her own government, claiming to be the legitimate authority over the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes. Boswell and her supporters are working out of the tribal complex in Concho, while Wandrie-Harjo and her government is based out of nearby El Reno, Okla.

Federal law gives the Prairie Chief-Boswell administration 30 days to appeal the decision to the Southern Plains regional office in Anadarko or it will become final.

The Prairie Chief-Boswell administration did not respond to requests for comment. In a statement posted to her Facebook page, the other claimant governor urged her counterpart to negotiate a compromise in order to have the per capita payment funds released.

“All of us members need those per capita monies,” Wandrie-Harjo wrote. “We have suffered enough.

“Boswell needs to swallow her pride for the well-being of the members and meet w ith me and the BIA to get this per cap out or she needs to step down so the BIA and I can get the money out to the members.”

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court affiliated with the Prairie Chief-Boswell administration has not handed down a decision in either pending appeal of the tribes’ Oct. 8 primary election. The justices heard appeals from former governor and disqualified gubernatorial candidate Darrell Flyingman and tribal member and employee Joyce Woods on Nov. 15 and initially announced that a decision would be handed down within 10 days. No verdict had been announced by press time.