[September 7-8 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. So this week I’ll AmericanStudy histories and stories of pageants, leading up to a special Guest Post on a pageant story from a forthcoming book!]
[Most of my posts this week have been pretty negative, so I wanted to end on a more positive note, with this repeat of a 2016 post on a very inspiring pageant winner!]
On a young tribal emissary who embodies 21st century communal activism.
Most everything I know about Santana Jayde Young Man Afraid of His Horses, who in late 2015 at the 30th Annual Oglala Lakota Nation Wacipi (Pow Wow) was crowned Miss Oglala Lakota Nation 2015-2016, I learned from this article. I could paraphrase the article’s details and quotes in this paragraph, but instead I’ll ask you to check out that story about the amazing work and voice of this inspiring young activist, and then come back here when you’re done!
Welcome back! I’m not sure I can imagine a more fitting moniker than Santana’s Lakota name, When She Speaks They Listen. In the series of testimonials with which late 19th century Paiute leader and activist Sarah Winnemucca concludes her autoethnographic book Life among the Piutes (1886), a friend of Winnemucca’s notes that “she deserves the attention of our best ears.” Indeed she did, and so too do Santana and her work, both to raise awareness of reservation issues such as domestic violence and teen suicide (among many others) and to “celebrate life,” deserve as wide a hearing and response as possible. To read the quotes of Santana’s in that article, to see the many layers to her community, tribal, and national activisms (while she’s attending college, serving as the president of the Oglala Lakota College Center, and preparing for law school applications), can’t help but inspire renewed commitment from all of us to do our part to better the communities and world we share.
None of us can do it alone, of course, and Santana’s story also illustrates how truly communal are these activist efforts. Of particular note is the article’s recounting of her visit to the innovative and successful Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where students from kindergarten through high school all study the Lakota language as a central part of their curriculum. The school’s Lakota language teacher, Waniya Locke, articulates succinctly the connections of language to identity and community: “I invited Miss Oglala Lakota Nation into my classroom to show my students that outside my classroom, people really do care about our language. She encouraged them to continue to speak and grow in the Lakota Language.” Genuine patriotism takes impressive individual voices and leaders like Santana to be sure, but it also takes generations and communities of activists and leaders, like those being educated at Red Cloud. There’s nothing more inspiring and significant, nor more American in the best sense, than that combination.
Guest Post this weekend,
PS. What do you think? Pageant histories, stories, or contexts you’d share?