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A Very Close Vote Picks the New Miss Indian World

Indian Country congratulates Ms. Cheyenne Brady (Sac and Fox/Cheyenne/Tonkawa) on being crowned 2015 Miss Indian World.

Ms. Cheyenne Brady (Sac and Fox/Cheyenne/Tonkawa) was crowned 2015 Miss Indian World on Saturday. Brady edged out 1st runner-up, Ms. Ashley Pino (Acoma/Santo Domingo/Northern Cheyenne), and 2nd runner-up, Ms. Baillie Redfern (Metis Nation) for the top honor in what the pageant staff called one the closest contest in recent years.

During her opening remarks, Brady, 22, said, "First, and foremost, I would like to thank the Creator. This is something that I've dreamed about since I was a little girl. I've been coming to [Gathering of Nations] since I was a baby. I have a picture of my mom, sitting in those same red bleachers, and I'm little baby in my red jumpsuit, just sitting there [beside her.] Growing up, I've always watched Miss Indian World, and seen what great role-models they are. I'm just so thankful."

Brady also said that she aspired to work with children during her year-long term as Miss Indian World. “I want to empower and motivate them,” she said. “They're young, beautiful Native American children. We have this amazing culture, and it's fading. We need to revive it.”

She also said that she plans to work with children, whether they are on or off the rez. "I would love to get into the school systems, whether it's in the classroom, or at a bigger assembly. And, it doesn't have to be reservation schools,” Brady told ICTMN. “My little sister goes to school off the reservation. She once told [another student] that she was Asian. And, that hurt me. She was nervous to say who she was, and where she came from. I want to go to all schools where they have young Native children because the people around you can have a big influence on you."

RELATED:Meet the 21 Women Vying for Miss Indian World

The 21 contestants built a strong bond over the week-long competition; getting to know each other as sisters rather than competitors.

Jason Morgan Edwards

Left to right: Redfern, Brady, Pino

Redfern said, "The best part about being here was meeting everybody. We don't look at each other as competitors. We look at each other as sisters. We're here to support each other. I know [Brady] is going to do an excellent job, and I'm 100 percent behind her." Pino said, "I was telling a couple of the committee members, and a couple of the girls, this didn't feel like a pageant. It felt like I was just put in a group with other strong Indigenous women, who collectively wanted to help create healthier, positive communities.”

Brady, too, expressed high regard for the innate beauty and strength of Native women. "When I think of beauty, I think of my grandmas and the work that they do. They have their specific roles within ceremony. They're culturally active. That's beautiful to me. It's what in your heart.”