October 15th, 2014 Last Updated on: October 15th, 2014
Interview by Dr. Dawn Karima,PhD, Native American Culture Editor
True Native Beauty stands out amidst the controversies of mascots, headdresses and cultural stereotypes. Intelligent, poised and educated, Ms Indian ASU represents the values that Native Nations prize in our honorable Ladies. Mrs. Kellie Casoose shares the ways in which she walks in beauty as Ms Indian ASU with all of us at Powwows.com!
Q) Congratulations! You are a fabulous example of Native beauty, inside and out! Please tell us about yourself?
A) My name is Kelly Casoose. Currently, I am pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology. I am happy to say that I am a Senior at the Arizona State University Downtown Campus. Recently, I graduated from Phoenix College with my Associate's Degree in General Studies on May 10,2012. I am married to a Marine Veteran, who is Lance Corporal Joseph Casoose.I got married on January 1,2012. I am proud with my life considering I have my own family and responsibilities . The Ms.Indian ASU pageant has given me the opportunity to run for the title even with my marital status due to the rules allowing wives and mothers to run for the title. Therefore, I always love giving wives and mothers inspiration to achieve what you want in life.
Q) So inspirational! What do you want us to know about you?
A) The first pageant I participated in was the San Carlos Jr.High School Pageant, which I was a 7th grader at the time. Unfortunately, I did not take the title, instead I went home empty handed. I remember being very disappointed that I did not win, so I decided I would not participate in anymore pageants. Then, my 8th grade year my tribe paid the school to take us to the ASU Tempe Campus, where I met Ms.Indian ASU at the time. I told Ms.Indian ASU that I would become Ms.Indian ASU one day. My classmates laughed at me in disbelief. I attended the Ms.Indian ASU pageant for the past 3 years.Finally, I decided to run for the title. Since, 8th grade I practice my talent and language hoping to win the title one day. I am happy to say my dreams came true on April 12, 2014 when I was announced the new Ms.Indian ASU.
Q) Yay! How wonderful that you were able to achieve your dream! What is your tribal heritage and affiliation?
A) I come from the San Carlos Apache Reservation, which is 15 minutes east of Globe, AZ. I am part Navajo from my mother's side. My Apache Clan is the White Water Clan and my Navajo clan is the Big Water Clan.
Q) For those who might not know a lot about your tribe, what would you want them to know about your people?
A) My Apache Tribe is very traditional when it comes to the Sunrise Dance Ceremony. I went through the Coming of Age Ceremony, which is intense due to the amount of dancing you have to go through. We start practicing dancing on Wednesday through Thursday at the camp. Well, Friday through Sunday as the Sunrise Dance Ceremony on camp grounds. We dance toward the Sun praying to Usen that the girl can overcome obstacles that may occur in life. Also, we pray that she has a great life with following her Godmother's footsteps. The Gaans are very sacred to our tribe, especially the crowns they wear throughout the ceremony. Crown dancers are 5 mountain spirit dancers that hold a lot of power, prayers, and send messages to Usen. They paint the girl on Sunday to represent White Painted Women, who is very holy. The girl can cure sickness and prayers can be answered with her prayers.
Q) Culture and tradition is so important! What are some ways that you incorporate your tribal lifeways into your life?
A) My culture is very important to me, because I was taught a lot throughout the Sunrise Dance Ceremony. I think about my family,friends, and God Family when I make decisions in life. I think about what will they think of me “if I did this or that”. My tradition is incorporated through prayer, because I was taught to pray early in the morning toward the east. I pray for myself, family,friends, community, and Mother Nature. We must always pray for the Earth we live on, and the sickness that exist today.
Q) Our traditions are so powerful! Did you think of your family, friends and community when you heard the announcement that you won? Has your life changed since then? If so, how?
A) When I heard the announcement that I won it felt like I was where I was suppose to be in life. For instance, I had been practicing for so many years, so I knew I had to finally win in life. I fulfilled my dreams of being a Senior in college and wining the title. I remember looking at my parents, who are Zell and Keith Bullis. I cried with full of happiness because I felt so proud that I won and my parents were there for me throughout life. My life has change because I finally understood why Miss America cries when they win the title. I was not used to people taking pictures with me, but I grew with the title. I know how to be outgoing, friendly, and pose for cameras.
Q) What are some of the experiences that you are having as a titleholder? We'd enjoy hearing some of your stories!!
A) I would say that during the ASU Tribal Nation Tour, I had the opportunity to meet with different tribes and learn their traditions. I learned how to speak different languages, so I can address the tribes with their language.
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) I would say that I am promoting language because our generation is dire with language. It is important we learn our language. My platform for the Ms.Indian ASU title is volunteering. I have been doing a lot of volunteering with Native Health, which is an organization that promotes health and wellness. Also, I am a part of the Ndeh Go zhooni igaali (Walk in Harmony) Hiking Group, who was created by Bob Stevens. We hike on different parts of the San Carlos Reservation, and we learn our sacred plants, healing, cultural background, and language. I am glad that Bob Stevens allows me to be apart of the community.
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 see myself as role model to other women and girls throughout the world. I love meeting different people, because I always try to inspire them to continue higher education. I know it is easy to get a job right after high school, but College Degrees give a person stability. I feel very honored to be a role model to the youth. I know I have inspired other mothers to run for the Ms.Indian ASU pageant.
Q) You are a lovely role model to many! Thanks for encouraging our wonderful Powwows.com Readers!
A) Thanks! Remember,Practice makes perfect!
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