Interview by Dr. Dawn Karima , Contributing Editor
Miss Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Queen, Stormie Perdash, busily represents her Native Nation. She also attends college and is a devoted beadworker. Yet, for many throughout Native America, her gorgeous grace and fabulous footwork as a jingle dress dancer are a highlight of many powwows. Stormie Perdash reflects on her dancing and her ethnicity as part of this interview with Powwows.com.
Q) Congratulations! You are truly a beauty, inside and out! Please tell us about yourself? What do you want us to know about you?
A) Hello, my name is Stormie Perdash, I am 18 years old and currently attending Salish Kootenai College, located on the Flathead Reservation in Pablo, MT. I am here to get my AA in Native American Studies
Q) What is your tribal heritage and affiliation? For those who might not know a lot about your tribe, what would you want them to know about your people?
A) I am an enrolled member of the Shoshone-Bannock and a descendant of the Eastern Shoshone tribes. My tribe is known for their intricate beadwork designs of roses. Often if you see a rose on an outfit or beadwork, it signifies that they are of Shoshone decent. My tribe also hosts an amazing event, The Shoshone Bannock Festival, which includes a powwow, Indian Relay racing, a rodeo, softball tournaments, an art show and craft and food vendors, every second weekend in August.
Q) Culture and tradition is so important! What are some ways that you incorporate your tribal lifeways into your life?
A) One of the ways I incorporate my tribal lifeways into my life is by beading on a daily basis. Beading every day helps me connect with my traditions while also continuing and furthering my own beading skills.
Q) Powwows are very important to many of our Native people, including all of us here at Powwows.com. Do you attend powwows? What do powwows mean to you? Why do you think powwows are important?
A) As an ambassador of the Eastern Shoshone tribe and Indian Country, I try to attend as many powwows as possible. Powwowing is more than just a hobby, its what basketball is to Michael Jordan, what music was to the Beatles or what writing was to Shakespeare. It's an art, it's where I lose myself but find myself. When I dance at powwows I am expressing my individuality through my dance style, footwork and outfits. One who doesn't dance or attend powwows might think they are all about money and competition, but when I dance, I compete with myself, always striving to be better. It's much more than the money, it's how I feel on the dance floor. I've a;ways been told to dance for more than myself, I dance for those who cannot, those who are in need of prayers and those who came to listen to good music and watch good dancing. Powwows are important because they connect Native People to their culture. It's a way of representing who we are and where we come from. You can tell a lot about a person by their beadwork, choice of colors and style of dancing. Powwows are a way of celebrating and gathering and being proud of your traditions. It is a way to renew old friendships and make new ones. Powwows are a great way to make new experiences. Q) What was the it like when you heard the announcement that you won? Has your life changed since then? If so, how?
A) When they announced my name as the title holder of Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Queen, I felt accomplished and thankful. In this contest, I was the only one who competed for the Queen title, but with or without competition, I'm always trying my best. In past titles, when I did compete against a lot of other contestants, the feeling when I won a crown was one of a kind. I would feel accomplished, excited and ready for an exciting year. In the past, I have won 4 Princess titles, Fort Hall Headstart Princess,Veterans Warrior Society Princess, Fort Hall Festival Princess, Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Princess Since that moment of being crowned Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Queen, I am always trying to be the best role model I can be.
Q) What are some of the experiences that you are having as a titleholder? We'd enjoy hearing some of your stories!!
A) Some experiences that I've has as Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Queen are like any other title holder, speaking in front of crowds, making new friends on my travels and representing the powwow in a good way. Some of my favorite memories on the powwow trail are when little girls come up to me and tell me they like my style of dancing or when they grow up, they want to be royalty just like myself.
Q)What are some of the issues you are promoting during your reign? What is your platform? How are you raising awareness for it throughout your reign?
A) One of the points I promote are to be drug and alcohol free, get your education and remember your tradition and culture. I am promoting this by being a good role model and doing these things myself. I have been drug and alcohol free my whole life and am also attending powwows/community events and conferences. I hope the younger generation sees this and can be inspired to also be above the influence and make something of themselves while remembering where they came from.
Q) What's next after your reign?
A) After my reign, I will graduate from Salish Kootenai College with my AA in Native American Studies in June 2015 and after graduation I will run for the title of Miss Sho-Ban, representing the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and then run for the prestige title of Miss Indian World. After this, I will continue my studies in NAS and make my way up to my doctorates degree.
Q) What's the best advice you've ever received? What piece of advice are you glad that you DID NOT follow?
A) The best advice I've ever received is to always smile, have confidence in yourself and remember where you came from. Also, if I don't think some ones advice is relevant, I don't take it in consideration.
Q) Do you see yourself as a role model to other Native Americans? How does that make you feel? What do you hope others learn from your example?
A) I do see myself as a role model among Indian Country. I'm a role model everyday to my younger siblings by being the oldest child and as well as being the first in my family to attend college. Being a role model makes me feel proud because I am representing myself, my family, my tribe and the powwow and powwow committee. It makes me feel as if i'm making a difference even if everyone doesn't notice me or my accomplishments, I know someone will and someone will be inspired to do the same. I believe that both the elders and younger generations deserve respect and I am trying to set the best example as a role model as I can.
Q) What advice would you give someone just starting out in pageants and/or powwows? What do you wish you knew before you started?
A) If someone was starting powwows or pageants, I would tell them to be prepared in advance. Practice your speech and routine, make sure your outfit is complete and most of all be confident. I have always been a part of pageants and powwows but I do wish I learned my tribal language earlier. Q) Anything else you'd like to share with us? A) I'd like to thank Powwows.com for this amazing opportunity and I invite everyone to the Eastern Shoshone Indian Days Powwow in Fort Washakie, WY, the third weekend of June!
Thank you! Thanks so much! We wish you many blessings!
Dr. Dawn Karima is a NAMMY-Winning Recording Artist for her CD, THE DESIRE OF NATIONS. She has reigned as Miss Native American Achievement, Miss North Carolina Achievement, Ms. Native American Worldwide and Ms. American Indian Beauty.