Southern Style: Miss Indian North Carolina!

Posted By PowWows.com May 18th, 2015 Last Updated on: May 18th, 2015



Interview by Dawn Karima, Native American Culture Editor

Quick! Where is NDN COUNTRY? South Dakota? New Mexico? Oklahoma?  While each of these great states is home to outstanding tribes and Native nations, North Carolina also ranks in the Top Ten states with Native population, according to the US Census. Miss Indian North Carolina, Savannah Baber, shares her journey to represent these Southeast Tribes and promote inter-tribal unity.

DK: Since Cherokee, North Carolina, is my home, I am delighted to visit with the new Miss Indian North Carolina!

MINC:  I am honored to hold this title and to have this interview opportunity! I'm glad I have the opportunity to share some of myself with you. I am an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, but I am also from the Chickahominy tribe of Virginia.

DK: Wonderful! What are you passionate about in your life these days?

MINC: I will be attending college at Wake Forest University next year, and I plan on pursuing a degree in Business there. I'm very excited about starting school in the fall, and I'm especially excited about the opportunity to share my culture on campus. Some other quick fun facts about me: I love theatre, traveling, and writing poetry. My favorite author is Sherman Alexie.

DK: Folks are quick to think of the Plains Tribes and Southwest Natives, but according to the US Census, our home state actually is among the top ten states with Native population in the USA. What does your tribal bloodline mean to you?

MINC: Being Lumbee and Chickahominy, I come from two very rich cultures. The Chickahominy people actually had some of the first contact with European settlers, and were allied with the Powhatan confederacy, though we were a very large entity in our own right. We were not a part of the confederacy, but according to common lore, we captured John Smith and took him to Powhatan. I think that's pretty cool. I love being from the Eastern Woodlands because our history is so intertwined with early American history, and our tribes are very rooted in that heritage.

DK: Wow! What a powerful heritage! With such a legacy, how do you feel about preserving your tribal culture and traditions?

MINC: It's always been important to preserve my heritage. My parents taught me that early on. We attend powwows regularly, but we also just make a point to have real conversations about the contemporary issues our people face. We talk native politics a lot, and I've developed an honest passion for helping our people because of that.

DK: Very wise! You mentioned powwows, which we are all passionate about here…

MINC: I love powwows! The Chickahominy powwow is my personal favorite because it's all about community and hospitality. It's just a wonderful, easygoing time. It truly encompasses the purpose of a powwow, which is celebration and family.

DK: Speaking of celebrations, were you thrilled when you were crowned Miss Indian North Carolina?

MINC: I honestly never expected to win. The other girls were absolutely wonderful, gorgeous, and brilliant. But I'm so thankful for the opportunity. It's a great responsibility to represent the Indian people of North Carolina. I've enjoyed every moment so far.

DK: What are your favorite experiences as Miss Indian North Carolina?

MINC: I've been able to travel a little bit around the state and attend all the different powwows. Everywhere I go, I've been welcomed with open arms. That's the best thing about this crown, people want to share stories with me. I love talking to people and even just smiling at them as I go by. It's great to meet people all over.

DK: That's awesome! Actually, I paid for most of my Master's Degree by winning pageants, so the travel and meeting new people has always been my favorite aspect of my own pageant titles. Another facet I always enjoyed was being able to promote my favorite charities and my platforms. What's your platform for your reign?

MINC: My platform this year is about cultural awareness among non-Indian people. I want to start conversations about our Native heritage in mainstream America. That can only happen if we as indigenous people are willing to have those conversations. We are the teachers, so I want to encourage our people to be bold about sharing our culture and correcting the history books essentially. I think that awareness is also important in regards to our current issues. I want the problems we face in our communities and on reservations to be the concerns of ALL people in America, not just Indians. I feel that way about all minority groups, though. If it affects a human, we should all be concerned about it.

DK: I admire your strength and boldness! Does sharing your wisdom with others make you feel like a role model?

MINC: Miss Indian NC does give me the chance to be a very public role model for Native people. I don't take that lightly. While I believe that we should all aim to be role models in our daily lives, I understand that a title like this takes it to another level. I am proud to represent Native North Carolina, and I want to encourage my people and tell them that they can do it too. When we go to universities and thrive, we are representing Native people. When we have good work ethic at our jobs, we are representing Native people. I love that my crown gives me the opportunity to say that in such a public way.

DK: We look forward to seeing you on the Powwow Highway! You are truly dynamic and dedicated! Many thanks for sharing your reign with us!

MINC: Thank you for giving me this opportunity to talk with you! I am truly honored. Also, thank you to United Tribes of North Carolina for making the title of Miss Indian North Carolina so respectable.

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jasmine chavis

I’m lumbee too! I wanna be friends, haha!

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