BY TRISTA VAUGHN
TAHLEQUAH - The United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians crowned Koley Boyd and Destinee Kingfisher-Wolfe as the 2018-2019 Miss Keetoowah and Jr. Miss Keetoowah during a pageant held September 28 at the Jim Proctor Elder Nutrition Center.
Boyd, 18, was “shocked” to hear her name called and is eager to begin working for the tribe.
“To me, being Miss Keetoowah means I can get us out there and show people we are here,” she said. “I always have to inform people about UKB. I just really means a lot to me to get our name out there and I have the best support from my family, too.”
Jr. Miss Keetoowah Kingfisher-Wolfe, 16, said it was an “honor” to be crowned and that it has helped her embrace her identity.
“To me, being Jr. Miss Keetoowah means I have the opportunity to be vocal about my culture,” she said. “I know a lot about my culture and this gives me a chance to educate people who have no idea what Native Americans are. My heart is in this and I just love being UKB.”
Miss and Jr. Miss Keetoowah are youth ambassadors for the tribe. In addition to sharing the Keetoowah Cherokee culture with others, their responsibilities include representing the UKB at various events and getting other youth involved with tribal happenings.
“It gives an opportunity for two young ladies who are tribal members to have some say so as an official representative for the tribe,” said Travis Wolfe, pageant organizer. “This year we are going to have a contract that solidifies their presence in the community. It shows where their heart and mindset is for the tribe. They represent us in the best light as possible.”
The pageant tested contestants on a variety of subjects including knowledge of Keetoowah culture, history, language and tradition by asking a series of impromptu questions. Each contestant also had to complete a talent portion and pitch a platform.
Boyd chose to discuss children in foster care as her platform, a cause special to her.
“My platform involved kids getting taken away from their homes, just needing a family, or foster parents. Just someone to be there and care for them,” she said. “The reason why I wanted to shine light on the foster care system is because I was in it at one time. It traumatized me but overall, it did touch me and I want to be vocal about this topic.”
Kingfisher-Wolfe’s bullying platform also hit a personal note, as she said she was often bullied as a child because of her Cherokee heritage.
“When I was in 5th grade, I was getting bullied not only because of my size, but also because I was different than the other kids,” she said. “I got bullied so much, my mom had to take me out of there and home school me for two years. From the time being home schooled, my mom told me that it is OK to be different and they don’t understand how we were raised.”
Though Kingfisher-Wolfe would continue her studies at home, she did take the opportunity to visit her old school once more to demonstrate her culture.
“We did a demo of stomp dancing and explained where that came from. After that, many of the kids thought it was so cool and interesting. It gave them more of an insight and understanding,” she said.
Miss Keetoowah was awarded a $2,000 scholarship and Miss Keetoowah runner-up Raelie Grayson was awarded $1,000. Jr. Miss was awarded $300.
Boyd and Kingfisher-Wolfe will make their debut during the 68th Annual UKB Celebration.