October 21st, 2015 Last Updated on: January 20th, 2016
Historically, the noble Comanche Warriors were once known as “Lords of Plains.” Newly crowned Comanche Nation Princess, Shelby Mata, introduces us to her powerful people. She shares her goals and visions for her title and beyond in these candid insights!
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) Thank you. I truly am honored to be able to represent my people as their Comanche Nation Princess. My name is Shelby Elizabeth Mata. I was given the name “Gommock” (pronouced kah-mah-kah), which was my great-grandmothers name, meaning loving person, or cares for others. I am 18 years old and a freshmen at the University of Oklahoma. I am the daughter of Antonio and Phillis Mata of Walters, Ok. I am a ¼ Comanche and very humbled to be a part of such a great nation. I have served as the Comanche Nation Junior Princess from 2008-2010, and also the first young Comanche lady to represent the tribe as both junior and senior princess. I have also served as the Comanche War Dance Society Princess 2011-2012 and the Comanche Indian Veterans Association (CIVA) 2013-2015. I am also currently holding the title of Miss Walters, which is my hometown scholarship pageant.
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) My Tribal affiliation is Comanche. As Comanche people, we are known as ‘The Lords of the Plains’ which I truly believe we are. We are known for our great horsemen skills and also for being quiet when attacking in battle. Giving us the reputation of also being known as ‘snake people.’ In our Comanche seal, the red horseman represents the name given to Natives as ‘the red man, the separation of the blue from the yellow is a curvy line that represents the movement of a snake. The blue represents loyalty and the yellow represents the sun and the state of happiness.
Q) Powwows are very important to many of our Native people, including all of us here at Powwows.com. Do you attend powwows?
A) Yes! I have been attending powwows since I was 9 months old. My mom maid my first dress, and my oldest sister made me a breast plate. I was told the first powwow I attended was at Fort Sill Indian School, at an organizational powwow. Since then, I have attended powwows frequently and attend them monthly, if not every weekend. Growing up, I made a lot of close friends and relations attending powwows. If anything, that’s where I met all of my friends today. My parents believed that it was good for me to attend powwows and other traditional ceremony’s to learn more about my tribe. I am truly humbled they introduced me to my native culture and that I am able to dance at powwows for the ones who can no longer dance, and those who have passed on and taught me our ways.
Q) What do powwows mean to you? Why do you think powwows are important?
A) Powwows to me are a way of coming together as a nation, allowing us to thank our ancestors for giving us these different dances, and being humbled that God granted us the ability to dance and carry on our traditions. I believe powwows are important because it is a way to keep our culture and traditions alive, as well as, a learning tool for the younger generation. I believe it is very important that we continue having powwows and ceremonial dances to honor our ancestors and truly thank them for what they have given us.
Q) What was the it like when you heard the announcement that you won? Has your life changed since then? If so, how?
A) It’s an indescribable feeling. I can’t even find words to explain the complete happiness and utter shock I had. It was truly amazing. Tears filled my eyes and all I could truly think about was how happy I was to finally fulfill my dream. Since then my life has truly changed. I am now a strong believer in never giving up on my dreams and pursuing every goal that I have. I have had endless support from several tribal members, friends, close relations, and family members. Without them, I don’t think I would be where I am today.
Q) What's next after your reign?
A) After I hand this title to the next recipient, I plan on running for the titles of Miss Indian Oklahoma, Miss Indian OU, and maybe even Miss Indian World, one day. I also plan on pursuing my degree in Native American Studies and attending Law school at the University of Oklahoma.
Q) What's the best advice you've ever received? What piece of advice are you glad that you DID NOT follow?
A) The greatest advice I have received is, “respect all, fear nothing.” Which I am a strong believer in. Never be rude or disrespectful to your elders, or anyone for that fact, and to never fear failure or anything that might not allow you to follow your dreams. The advice that I’m glad I didn’t listen to was, “running for tribal princess, or any title, while in college is hard and will be to stressful for you. You shouldn’t do it. Just focus on your studies, and worry about you.” If I were to follow that advice, I would not have been able to pursue a dream that I have had since a little girl to represent my tribe as the Comanche Nation Princess.
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) Well, I like to think I am a role model to others, but there is always room for improvement. I have had several little girls come up to me and say they want to be just like me. As anyone would say, I encourage them to be their own person, but to follow a similar path I have chosen, which is to stay away from drugs and alcohol, be active in school, get good grades, and learn as much as you can about your tribal traditions. One thing I hope they truly learn from me, is to never give up on a dream or goal they have. I ran the previous year for the title of Comanche Nation Princess, and lost. Yes, I was hurt. But I knew that this was something that I have wanted since I was little and knew that next time I would just have to try harder and here I am now. I kept a positive mindset and ran once again for the title and won! Just never give up. God always has a plan for you, at the moment you may not understand why, but when one door closes, another opens.
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) From a pageant perspective, I was in the Miss Walters pageant and won. I would just say be yourself, don’t be afraid to stand out or be different, and be confident in yourself! Confidence is key! Don’t compare yourself to others. God made us all unique and blessed us with different talents that we should use to praise him and glorify his name. Always smile! It’s the prettiest and inexpensive thing you can wear! From a powwow perspective, most of my tribal titles have been by election, so it is always ‘nerve-racking’ situation. Be confident! Shake hands, greet all who came to the powwow, smile as much as you can, and always be friendly. Make friends and new relations. Listen to the elders, they are wise and will teach you well! Always make sure they are taken care of and check up on them as frequently as you can. If you decide to run for a title, I encourage you to just be yourself and always be friendly. If you win, be humbled. Be ready for a great year of traveling, representing your people, making new relations and memories! Congratulate the other candidates, remember, they wanted this title just as much as you did. If you don’t win, stay humbled and be grateful that you were able to compete in the competition with another/other beautiful young native women who want to make an impact in their tribe and become a role model to several other girls. I also encourage you to run again. I believe that you all are princesses and that we all deserve a title, but there can only be one winner. So don’t give up! There’s always next year!
Q) Anything else you'd like to share with us?
A) I would like to send a huge shout out to the Comanche Nation! Thank you all for your endless support and giving me the chance to represent such a strong and honorable nation! Thank you to all of my friends and close relations for your endless support! I pray that you are blessed and have a safe trip to wherever you may go and that your homes be the same as you left them when you return, if not better. I hope to see you all down the powwow trail! Ura-kuk, Thank you!
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