Rebecca Gue heard about the annual Miss Indian World cultural pageant through some other women in her home town of Metlakatla. They wanted to sponsor a contestant, and asked Gue whether she would participate.
“I met the credentials, so they told me to think about it and I agreed. It’s been an interesting journey so far,” she says.
Gue has been busy preparing for the different segments of the competition, which include some of the expected elements of a pageant: Talent, interview, etc.
The cultural focus is what makes this competition unique. In addition to practicing her talent, Gue has been brushing up on Tsimshian traditions. And her talent is traditional song and dance, something she’s luckily had a lot of experience with already.
“I’m part of two different dance groups. I’ve danced with three,” says Gue.
In addition to her own dance performance, Gue and other competitors will dance during the Gathering of Nations pow-wow, and the crowning will take place on the last day of the gathering.
Wearing traditional clothing is part of the competition. Gue says she prepared parts of her own regalia, but some was given to her by family members.
“My button robe, my uncle made for me and I’ve been adding to it,” says Gue. “And I’ve made an apron and my other uncle, Robert Hewson, he is putting a design on it for me. My other uncle, Walter Hewson, he is making me jewelry. So I have a lot of things just from my uncles.”
Gue says her goal is to be a role model for indigenous women, and be a good representative of Alaska Natives and the Tsimshian people.
“I’m proud to be an Alaska Native American. I hope to promote pride in indigenous women. Pride in themselves, their tribe and their community. It would be an honor to represent my people,” says Gue.
One experience Gue looks forward to is meeting other Native Americans and learning about their traditions, too.
“I know it’s like a big sisterhood. They’re really sweet, to my understanding,” says Gue. “They become friends. I’m looking forward to finding friends that I will have for the rest of my life.”
The Miss Indian World cultural pageant is April 25th through April 27th in Albuquerque. The annual competition started in 1984.