In front of a sold-out Tingley Coliseum, 23-year-old Raven Swamp of the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake became the newest 2017 Miss Indian World on April 29th.
Raven Swamp, (Kahnawake Mohawk) from Quebec, was chosen out of 23 Native American women representing their tribes, who competed in the areas of tribal knowledge, dancing ability, public speaking and personality assessment.
During the 34th Annual Gathering of Nations pow wow presentation, Raven Swamp was dressed in Niio Perkins designs from Akwesasne, did her presentation in Kanien’kéha first and then in English. She performed an Iroquois song and dance that included the Creation story.
Mykhal Mendoza, from Whiteriver, Arizona, a member of the White Mountain Apache and Navajo tribes, was named first runner-up.
Shanley Spence, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, a member of the Swampy Cree and Anishinaabe tribes, was named second runner-up.
Shortly after her win, Swamp posted a thank you in her Mohawk language and in English to Indian country. “Niá:wen! Niá:wen! Niá:wen! I had so many people come up to me and shake my hand and congratulate me doing it all in kanien'kéha! Really feeling this positive energy guys,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Melonie Mathews, coordinator of the 2017 Miss Indian World Pageant, said in a press release, “Miss Indian World is one of the most prestigious honors in the Native American and indigenous world and the winner will serve as a role model for all Native Americans. Raven will travel the world educating others about tribal and cultural traditions, and bring together native and indigenous people.”
Raven Swamp will represent all Native and indigenous people as a cultural goodwill ambassador for one year and will travel to many Nand indigenous communities around the world on behalf of the pow wow.
Swamp’s life experience includes teaching at the Akwesasne Mohawk Freedom school. She is also involved in a grassroots initiative that aims to establish an organic, self-sufficient farming project that strives toward Native and community economic independence through food sovereignty.
“A part of my platform is going to be focused on language revitalization and Indigenous food sovereignty,” said Swamp.
Follow Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) - ICMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wows and Sports Editor - Follow @VinceSchilling