TVLSE, Oklahoma – “I guess I should open this,” Principal Chief’s wife Monica Hill said, “Tema Yargee” Not a surprise to the crowd or Yargee, as she ran unopposed as Miss Muscogee Nation. Still, a well-deserved moment for the young woman as Mrs. Hill said her name as if it were being revealed.
“Even though I didn’t have another contestant I still felt nervous,” Yargee said. “I wanted to do my best.”
Doing her best led her not only to the title but as a multiple category winner, winning the most awards of the evening.
With four other competitors running for the Jr. Miss title, Chenoa Barnett’s childhood dream came true when she heard her name.
“I have dreamt of this since I was a little girl,” Barnett said. “I used to tell my grandma that I would be Muscogee Princess one day.”
The moments shared with their families after the ceremony was full of emotions, excitement and an unseemingly amount of pride and congratulations.
On Thursday, June 9, the royal pair signed the official contracts with Principal Chief David Hill.
Chief said he is very excited for these young ladies and is confident they will represent the Nation well.
At the age of 20, Yargee is a criminal justice student at Northeastern State University but comes from the other side of the state as a Cromwell Community member. She is of the Eco (deer) clan, a member of the Sandcreek Ceremonial Grounds, and granddaughter of Alabama Grounds.
Yargee used her own story and experience in developing her platform promoting children with physical limitations.
“I received a birth injury called Erb’s palsy,” Yargee said. “Throughout my life, I have done therapy and three major surgeries on my right arm to have the functionality I do today.”
During childhood, there were many times she could not play with her peers. Yargee felt left out due to her limited mobility caused by the birth injury.
Through therapy, rehabilitation and hope, Yargee has overcome her struggles. Even though her condition can be challenging, Yargee doesn’t let it keep her down or stop her.
“I want to show kids in similar circumstances as me that we can still be successful in the future,” Yargee. “Nothing can stop you from pursuing your dreams.”
Chenoa Barnett is 17 and attends Preston High School but lives in Okmulgee, the Muscogee Nation capitol.
She is of the Wotko (raccoon)clan, ties herself to the Nuyaka tribal town, and claims to be a ceremony dancer.
Like many teens, Barnett has struggled with mental illness, not forgetting that others go through the same thing. Fortunately, Barnett has an extensive support system, including friends and family, who would help her when she struggles.
“Not everyone has the same support system as I do,” Barnett said.
Knowing that Barnett thinks about those who are lacking support.
“I just want to be that,” Barnett said. “I want to show others who have overcome their mental health trauma that we can help others now.”
As a young Indigenous woman, She feels it is essential for her to include her culture in her platform to promote mental health in Native American communities and youth.
The event was a little hectic for the Royalty Coordinator LuAnn Bear and the pageant committee as there was a last-minute location change due to a city water issue in Beggs.
“We had set up completely at Beggs High School the night before,” Bear said.
The committee and volunteers rushed around to find a spot to host the pageant, and with luck, Bear obtained use of the second-floor ballroom at the River Spirit Resort and Casino. According to Bear, the rush did cause some unexpected changes to the schedule.
Judge’s results named Bailey Moore as Jr. Miss runner-up in a case where Barnett steps down or cannot fulfill her contractual duties.
Category winners are as follows:
Best self-presentation – Winter Beaver
Best Written essay- Tema Yargee
Best Communication- Tema Yargee
Best Stage Presence- Tema Yargee
Best Cultural Presentation – Bailey Moore
Miss Congeniality- Chenoa Barnett
For more information, visit the Mvskoke Royalty Facebook page.