Byline: Morgan Taylor/Multimedia Producer
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla – The 2023 Miss Indian Oklahoma City pageant crowned Aurianna Jones (Seminole), Jr. Miss, Jaylee Mule (Kiowa), Little Miss, Mahlea Warrior (Kickapoo) at the Destiny Christian Center on March 13.
The 31st annual pageant was sponsored by the Changing Winds Cultural Society. The Seminole Nation Honor Guard presented the colors for the ceremony.
Lisa Johnson Billy (Chickasaw) and her husband Phillip Billy emceed the event. Lisa was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives District 42, becoming the first Native American woman to serve in the state house. She finished out her term in 2016 as the floor leader.
CWCS Chairwoman Cheryl Anquoe (Kiowa) said that the pageant serves young Native girls living within OKC, Guthrie, Shawnee, Purcell and El Reno areas.
“We provide a platform,” she said. “The Changing Winds Cultural Society.”
Sign language classes start immediately for the princesses for six weeks.
According to Anquoe, the trio will perform in sign language at future events attended.
“These girls are invited to perform,” she said, mentioning the high volume of requests for the performance. “These performances have to be a priority.”
When inquiries are made by outside organizations, Anquoe said they expect all three princesses to be there.
“It’s an obligation, there is a lot required,” she said. “It’s a prestigious title, they go out into the community, they are seen, they are known.”
Additionally, the girls are involved in meet and greets of various forms and exhibition dancing if appropriate.
Previously, princesses have been special guests of the RedEarth, Gathering of Nations, the Rhythm of the World, Oklahoma American Indian Chamber of Commerce Luncheon, Oklahoma City State Fair, and many community powwows.
Anquoe said that the last three reigning misses attended over 16 powwows together not including events, appearances and requested performances.
CWCS seeks an honorarium for the girls. They have been honored with gift cards, gifted items, and even received monetary honors.
The main goal is to get the girls out of their shell and be able to interact in front of the public, according to Anquoe.
“They learn so much, protocol and etiquette,” she said. “A lot of them go on to hold other titles, alot of them come back to win these titles.”
The most recent former title holder is Rachel Scott (Chickasaw), who came back to win the Miss title at last year’s pageant from being crowned Little Miss years ago.
Anquoe claims there have been Muscogee (Creek) Nation participants and title holders in the past. A list of title holders can be viewed on their website.
It draws many emotions out of Anquoe watching the young ladies take on these roles. She sheds proud tears from time to time.
“The transformation from the time they gain the title from the time they leave they become more outgoing and it’s wonderful to see,” Anquoe said. “It’s priceless, that’s all I can say.”
Anquoe got involved with the organization and the pageant when her young daughter won the Little Miss title at just six years old, making her the youngest title holder at the time.
CWCS founder Shirley Wapskine, , appointed Anquoe as her right hand man after her young daughter’s reign.
Wapskineh created the CWCS and the Miss Indian OKC pageant after she saw a need for young Native girls to be mentored in the OKC area. Being involved in the Oklahoma Federation of Native Women and Miss Indian World allowed the platform idea to take shape.
According to Anquoe, it was Wapskineh’s main goal to help these ladies be in front of the public. The connections that she had with different entities including civic, private, and public organizations boosted opportunities for the young native women.
Anquoe served seven years until Wapskineh’s passing in 2015. She returned in 2021 to bring Wapskineh’s legacy back to the pageant.
“It was her heart and her life,” she said. “She holds a special place in a lot of these womens’ hearts.”
Spending time together, the girls developed a strong bond.
“It’s a sisterhood,” Anquoe said. “All the girls that have held titles are sisters.”
“As Ms. Shirley would say ‘May you always walk in beauty’.”
Committee Members of the pageant include Pat Nimsey, Madonna Myers, Robert Deere, Kalonie Green, Susan Zotigh, Claudette Eckiwardy, Alexis Tanyan, Lori Switch, Hilary Fields, Keri Morgan, and Patricia McDaniels-Gomez.
For more information visit https://missindianokc.org/.