Putting the Native in American Idol

Putting the Native in American Idol

I feel so blessed to be able to represent Native Country on such a platform as American Idol #NativePride #PomoNation. This nationwide campaign took place on my very own reservation, Big Valley Rancheria. – Via Aranesa Turner's Facebook

Are you listening, Indian country?

On Thursday night, 20-year-old Aranesa Turner was selected by the American Idol judges to receive a so-called “Golden Ticket” — a trip to Hollywood to compete against other hopefuls on the long-running entertainment contest.


Aranesa is a member of the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians. As she explained on Twitter, her mother was born and raised on the Big Valley Rancheria reservation, and her father is African American. She is believed to be the first Native American to be selected for the main competition of American Idol. Some previous contestants may have had some American Indian heritage, but none we're aware of have self-identified as Native. (Carrie Underwood, winner of the fourth season of the show, is from Checotah, Oklahoma, and is said to be partly Muscogee Creek, although she denied she is a “member” of any tribe in an interview with CMT last year.) Prior to embarking on her American Idol journey, Aranesa attended Northwest Indian College.

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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