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Aliyah Chavez
Indian Country Today

Miss Indian World Cheyenne Kippenberger knew she wanted to lift spirits this holiday season. But how?

She sat down and asked herself what was fun, accessible, safe and inclusive. She decided the answer was to host a competition to find the "next great NDN baker.”

Kippenberger’s Facebook competition includes three age categories: Native youth, teenagers and adults. While submissions are closed, she encourages the public to participate through voting. 

The post with the most “likes” or “loves” by Wednesday afternoon will be crowned the winner in a Facebook Live event held on Christmas Eve.

Winners will receive a cash prize and a Christmas basket filled with goodies from Kippenberger.

Since announcing her virtual Christmas cake decorating contest in early December, she says she’s been “blown away” by the response.

“I first thought, ‘Anybody can go buy a box cake mix, icing and sprinkles,’” Kippenberger said.

Now, her Facebook competition is filled with multiple-tiered cakes, carefully crafted fondant characters and snow globes made from sugar.

“Even the kids' cakes are impressive,” Kippenberger said. “I can't even believe how talented all these people are.”

The competition has received more than 50 submissions from tribal nations in the U.S. and Canada.

One of those vying for the title is 10-year-old Iñupiaq baker Henry “Misik” Bodfish, who has been whipping up tasty treats since he was 3. 

Henry "Misik" Bodfish has been baking since age three. He is Iñupiaq from Atqasuk, Alaska. (Photo courtesy of Amelia Kanayurak)

Misik says he started off making donuts with his mom, Amelia, then switched to cakes. He enjoys baking so much that he once hosted a giveaway of his own, asking community members in his 300-person village to submit “funny dancing videos.” The winner won a cake.

When he learned about Kippenberger’s competition, he was excited to enter.

“I got the idea from our colorful Christmas tree,” Misik said, adding that his creation took him about an hour to decorate. “I love to bake, especially cakes for my dad.”


Kippenberger says her competition has been a "labor of love.”

She has spent hours on the project, creating every graphic and flyer herself, answering comments and messages and perfecting the prizes.

All of this, Kippenberger says, means a lot to her when she reads comments saying the competition was a way to bring hope, joy and a fun way to spend time with family.

“Essentially that’s one of the things I strive for as Miss Indian World. If anything, I really think of this project as something I did for the people,” she said. “I want people to know it’s brought a lot of joy to myself and family as well.”

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at

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