San Juan College 2023 Graduate Cassie Frank competes in the Miss Indian World pageant.
Yá’át’ééh Shik’ éí dóó shidine’ é Shí éí Cassie Peshlakai Frank yinishyé Dibéłzhíní nishłí Bit’ahnii bashishchiin Táchii’nii dashicheii Tábaahá dashinalí Ákót’éego diné asdzáán nishłį ́Ahéhee’
A dream come true
I first attended the Gathering of Nations in 2022, while I was reigning as Miss Indigenous San Juan College 2021-2022. I have known of the pageant, Miss Indian World, for a while and I knew someday I wanted to be a part of it. With the incredible support of my family and friends, I was able to be a contestant this past April. At the age of 21, my dream of being in the pageant was coming true.
Getting ready for the pageant
After being accepted into the pageant, I only had two months to prepare. It required a lot of hard work and training to become a Southern Traditional dancer. It’s a good thing I already had everything I needed to participate except the powwow regalia. I had to make my powwow regalia quickly. At first it was just trial and error, but thanks to my powwow family, who helped me, we got it finished in time for the pageant. The pageant was very demanding. I was up by 6 a.m. and returning to the hotel room at 9 p.m. every day. Even though I was exhausted, the excitement and adrenaline kept me going. During the pageant, many us were still taking finals for our classes, myself included. Most nights I didn’t get to sleep until 1 a.m., so that I could finish any homework or projects for my classes. I wanted to keep my grades up for graduation. It was an amazing experience, but quite expensive. Some of the participants had sponsors, but I paid my own expenses. Though, it was well worth it. First and foremost, I had the opportunity to be a Miss Indian World contestant. I learned so many new things and have incredible memories from eating at Fego De Chao, a Brazilian Steak House, to finding out I enjoy wagyu. And most importantly, I now have 25 new sisters, whom I will have for a lifetime. On coronation day we cried, and we laughed. We knew only one of us would become the next Miss Indian World 2023-2024. However, we also knew that we were fortunate to spend a week with her—whoever she was.
One thing I took away from being a contestant in Miss Indian World was knowing there are countless Indigenous tribes, traditions and languages to learn about, and this pageant exposed many of those to me. I miss all my sisters and their families, everyone was so friendly and proud to be Indigenous.