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Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess Reflects on Her Reign

(L-R) Miss Native American USA Ashley Susan, Miss Indian World Danielle Ta'sheena Finn, Miss Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess Kennise McGertt, Miss Indian Arizona Shaandiin Parrish, and Miss Indian Arizona 1st Attendant Mariah Sharpe at the 2017 Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Photos submitted by McGertt family

Good day, my name is Kennise McGertt and I am the reigning Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess. As this year’s titleholder, I had the honor of representing the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. I have blossomed into a strong young woman who isn’t afraid to come out of her shell, try new things, and be proud of who she is.

I have traveled near and far to represent my Community, attending more than 100 events. There were even weekends when I attended multiple events! One Saturday, in the morning, I participated in the Earth Day celebration by planting prickly pear in the fields. Then I traveled to the 31st Annual ASU Pow Wow, and that same evening I attended the 70th Annual Silver & Turquoise Ball with royalty throughout the state of Arizona.

A few other events I attended included the Orme Dam Victory Days Celebration, the 79th Annual O’odham Wapkial Ha:Tas parade, the ASU Women’s Basketball Native American Day, and the Arizona Diamondbacks Native American Recognition Day. I also attended the “Honoring Our Fallen and Their Families” event honoring the Piestewa family and those who have lost loved ones in the service.

Throughout my reign, I attended pageants where I learned more about other tribes from different young men and women. I had the amazing opportunity to attend the prestigious Miss Indian World pageant. I also attended the 2017 Miss USA pageant; it was so unbelievable to represent Indian Country at a national pageant.

I proudly represented at the 54th Annual Shoshone-Bannock Festival in Fort Hall, Idaho; the 2017 Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and the 43rd Annual Honolulu Intertribal Powwow in Honolulu, Hawaii. I’m grateful to have been able to travel to powwows across the state of Arizona and more!

Miss Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess Kennise McGertt helped out at the SRPMIC Earth Day event. While attending the 54th Annual Shoshone Bannock Festival, Miss Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess Kennise McGertt, poses in front of Snake River in Ft. Hall, Idaho.
During my travels I met some extraordinary men and women, such as Mary Kim Titla, Radmilla Cody, Christian “Supaman” Parrish and Naelyn Pike. I also met fashion designer Joey Galon, who designed the evening gowns for Mrs. Universe 2015 and Miss Alaska USA 2016.

A few of the royalty I had the honor of meeting and befriending included Miss Indian World Danielle Ta’Sheena Finn, Miss Native American USA Ashley Susan, Miss Indian Arizona Shaandiin Parrish, Miss Alaska USA Alyssa London, and Miss North Dakota Teen USA Kilyn Parisien-Hill.

I would like to thank each of my “sash sisters” for their contribution to their tribes; you are all amazing, and your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

I would like to thank the Red Mountain Pow-Wow Committee from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity to be your representative.

Thank you to my family for supporting me on this journey. Thank you, Mom, for being my No. 1 supporter. Thank you to my brother for being my bodyguard, chaperone, photographer and events coordinator. Without both of you, none of this would be possible.

Special thanks to Debra Apodoca, Martha Martinez, Kevin Duncan, Kiana Reina, Nani Reina, Hattie Donahue, Dre Pilger and many more for helping me, whether I needed to be chaperoned, needed a dress at the last minute, or needed help fixing my hair!

To my late grandmother Dee and grandfather Louis McGertt: I love you and I hope I made you both proud throughout this journey.

Finally, to my Community, I’m truly grateful to have represented the Akimel O’odham and Piipaash people. It has been an honor to serve as your 30th Annual Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess.

Be a part of this legacy! We are looking for girls ages 9 to 11 to enter the 31st Annual Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess Pageant, which will be held on October 23 at the Salt River High School lecture hall. I would encourage the girls throughout the Community to compete in this year’s pageant. You will represent the Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. You’ll learn more about your community, build your confidence, attend amazing events and meet people from all over Indian Country! If you need any help or have questions, you can contact the pageant committee at redmountainpowwow@gmail.com.

Thank you for allowing me to share a little of my experience, and I hope to see you at this year’s Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess Pageant. Sopa.