Miss Red Cliff This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

My heart was pounding faster than even the drums were beating. Time seemed to pause as I stood next to my family. It was my third year in the running. “And our winner … Miss Red Cliff 2005, Number 183!”

My heart seemed to skip a beat. I stood there, frozen. My mom brought me back to reality: “That’s you, Mariah!”

As I walked to the speaker stand, the former Miss Red Cliff shook my hand, congratulating me. She took the crown from her head, placed it on mine, and then pinned a sash to my regalia that said “MISS RED CLIFF 2005” in bold letters.

The arena director announced my name and asked the host drum to sing an honor song. My family surrounded me, taking pictures and congratulating me. Then my family and I danced around the arena with our heads held high. I felt so much pride. People came up to shake my hand and give me money, flowers, kisses, and hugs. To become royalty had been my dream for years – to travel on the pow-wow trail and honor my reservation. Finally, with persistence I had reached my goal.

Before I became Miss Red Cliff, I never would have stood in front of hundreds of people to introduce myself. But as I traveled more and more, it became less nerve-racking. Also, during the pow-wow feast I served the elders. Previously I had to get to know someone well before I was able to be sociable, but I discovered that after a while I wasn’t like that anymore. When I traveled, I got a lot of compliments for representing my reservation. I felt very confident that I was doing a good job as Miss Red Cliff.

The year I won I traveled to many pow-wows. I represented my reservation and danced with my head held high. I went to pow-wows in Minnesota, Ohio, Canada, Michigan, and many other places. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity if I hadn’t become Miss Red Cliff.

I was honored in many communities. Little girls looked up to me, hoping one day they’d be honored as I was. It’s important to be a good role model at pow-wows. I wasn’t only representing myself, but my reservation and family too. So running around getting into trouble all day (instead of dancing) wouldn’t have been appropriate. A couple of elders told me that I was a very respectful and responsible young lady.

I do not regret becoming Miss Red Cliff. It was one of the best times of my teenage years. I was able to travel the pow-wow trail, which definitely boosted my self-esteem. I hope one day I will be able to watch my daughter (or granddaughter) dance behind the flag holders and veterans, as she holds the Miss Red Cliff title.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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