Mariposa Powwow Princess Grace Baga–A Teen Native Role Model!

Posted By PowWows.com March 3rd, 2014 Last Updated on: March 3rd, 2014

Mariposa Powwow Princess Grace Baga has been dancing for most of her young life.  Inspired by her graceful mother, Alorha Baga, Grace is carrying on the family legacy of entering the circle. As she reigns as a powwow princess and prepares for her upcoming dance special, Grace Baga reflects on life as a youthful role model.

Interview by Dr. Dawn Karima, Contributing Editor

Mariposa Powwow Princess, Grace Baga!

Mariposa Powwow Princess, Grace Baga!

Q) Congratulations! I know you are very busy with your Princess title, but what else is part of your life?
A) Well, I go to school at a middle college high school where we take college classes along with our regular high school classes and everything is college prep. I also play cello in the orchestra for my school. I love to dance, not only jingle, but ballet, lyrical, and jazz.

Q) You are a strong role model for other youth! How does your Native culture help you to walk in a good way?

A) I'm Tachi-Yokut and Sicangu Lakota. I think the spirituality of both of those give me an open mind and positive out look in life because of the stories in both of them. The idea of spirit worlds and spirits have always been fascinated me with that aspect of the culture. For the positive out look, my mom has always told me that there is good and bad in everything and it's up to the spirit of it to choose which it wants to be. She's told me that that's how the culture on her side of the family (Lakota) has always seen things.

Young Powwow Dancer Grace Baga!

Young Powwow Dancer Grace Baga!

Powwows mean so much to me! They've always been in my life. I would describe Powwows to someone as a collaboration of different tribes and cultures coming together to dance and enjoy themselves. To help find themselves again because when you dance, not only are you dancing to music, you're dancing to honor yourself, your elders, the children, everything. I would describe a powwow as a celebration and the reason they should attend is to have a good time and experience something new.

Q) I love to dance and I loved my many reigns as Princess/Queen. It's like a dream isn't it? Like everything changes when you put on your regalia and/or crown?
A)  Some things that change in me when I wear my regalia is that I am a whole lot more careful with my surroundings. Especially when I have feathers in because those are sacred. I feel lifted when I dance at powwow. I feel free, in sense, as to where I can express myself with dancing. I always dance according to how I'm feeling, like if I'm not feeling to great then I'll take my dancing down a notch and if I'm feeling absolutely great then I'll dance full out.

Q) What a good way to look at it! Have you always enjoyed dancing?
A) I started dancing because my mom out me out there. I've always loved it. I knew this was something I really wanted to do because it made me happy. The joy of it drew me in at such a young age. I think dancing other types of dances not related to powwows has also kept that little flame going. Dance is a big part of my life.

Powwow Princess Grace Baga dances jingle!

Powwow Princess Grace Baga dances jingle!

Q) Jingle dress dancers are very precious,since they carry healing.  How did you choose to dance jingle?
A) I didn't necessarily choose the style. My mom did. Before I was born (before she even knew I was a girl) she dreamed that I was going to be a jingle dress dancer and so when I was born she made me my very first dress and I've been dancing ever since.
I think the way I dance is a mix of contemporary jingle and old style.  Because I don't really dance that fancy. I like feeling more grounded and at one with the earth.

I have about 5 dresses, all of them unique in there own ways. Some designs like a star are special to me. The story behind that is the same exact story of my mom having a dream of me being a jingle dress dancer and she dreamed of the design and colors. When I started dancing my dress was a soft blue colored dress with purple and black and white. The star has always been a part of my regalia and I'm wishing to keep it like that.

Q) You have a special coming up!  Mariposa Powwow is during Mother's Day weekend, so I know you and your family are thinking about powwows a lot these days. What do you like best about powwows?
A) I think what makes a powwow a good one is the atmosphere and energy of it. If it feels good and I see everyone is enjoying themselves, then that makes a good powwow.  I don't think powwows should be about dancing competition to win money. Money is evil, unnecessary. I think you should go to a powwow to have fun, dance and enjoy yourself.

Mariposa powwow is during Mother's Day weekend (sat & sun)

Mariposa powwow is during Mother's Day weekend (sat & sun)

Q) Thanks for conducting yourself  with such poise and elegance. What does it feel like to be a role model to other teens?
A) I'm very… Odd in a sense, because I like things that most teens these days don't like. The type of music I listen to is so different from the music everyone else listens to. I'm also not much of a talker, more of a thinker. I'd rather sit back and watch the way people interact with each other than to be the center of attention. I'm a quiet person.

Q) Thank you for your good words and dancing!

A) Thank you.

Grace Baga (Tachi-Yokut/Sicangu Lakota)
Mariposa Pow Wow Princess
Jingle Special
Mariposa Fairgrounds
Mariposa, Ca.
Mother's Day Weekend
May 10 Thru 11th, 2014

Dr. Dawn Karima is the author of two novels, THE WAY WE MAKE SENSE and THE MARRIAGE OF SAINTS, which is published as part of University of Oklahoma's American Indian Studies Series.

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