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.”

New Miss Indian World crowned

Cheyenne Brady, a member of the Sac and Fox tribe of North Dakota, was crowned Miss Indian World 2015 at the 32nd Gathering of Nations, held in Albuquerque this past weekend. (Photo Courtesy of Gathering of Nations)

Cheyenne Brady, a member of the Sac and Fox tribe of North Dakota, was crowned Miss Indian World 2015 at the 32nd Gathering of Nations, held in Albuquerque this past weekend. (Photo Courtesy of Gathering of Nations)

By Rick Nathanson, Albuquerque Journal

Cheyenne Brady, a member of the Sac and Fox tribe of North Dakota, was crowned Miss Indian World 2015 at the 32nd Gathering of Nations, which concluded Saturday night.

The annual powwow is the largest event of its kind in the world, attracting more than 3,000 Native American and indigenous dancers from 700 tribes across the country, Canada and Mexico. The event also draws more about 100,000 spectators and nearly 800 Native American and indigenous artists and artisans.

Judges selected Brady, 22, from a field of 21 Native American women who competed in such categories as tribal knowledge, dancing ability, public speaking and personality.

Brady, a student at North Dakota State University, will travel around the world during the next year educating people about tribal culture and religion, as well as serve as a role model and ambassador of good will on behalf of all Native Americans.

Ashley Pino, 25, from Acoma, N.M., a student at the University of California, Berkeley, was named first runner-up. She is a member of the Acoma, Santo Domingo and Northern Cheyenne tribes.

The second runner-up was 25-year-old Baillie Redfern, from Ontario, Canada, a member of the Métis Nation and a student at the University of British Columbia.