The runner-up at the Mvskoke pageant returns from Miss Indian World 2024

The runner-up at the Mvskoke pageant returns from Miss Indian World 2024

ALBUQUERQUE, NM. – Claudia McHenry (Mvskoke) recently participated in the Miss Indian World pageant 2024. She started her journey on April 21 and returned on April 28. McHenry sat down with Mvskoke Media to discuss fundraising for the trip and her experiences competing.

This year marks McHenry’s final year in the competition. Returning to the parade, McHenry was excited to see new and familiar faces from past competitions.

According to the Miss Indian World website, “Miss Indian World is the largest and most prestigious cultural title in the world for young indigenous women (18-25 years old). As Ambassador for Cultural Goodwill, Miss Indian World represents Native American, Indigenous and First Nations tribal cultures around the world. This pageant is held every year during the Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque, New Mexico to exchange ideas, traditions and goodwill among the young women vying for the title of Miss Indian World,”

Before McHenry began her journey to New Mexico, money had to be raised for travel, lodging and entrance fees. McHenry and other volunteers from the Okmulgee community organized fundraisers to cover travel costs. Fundraisers include Indian taco sales, wild onion dinners and breakfast sales. Assistance with each sale was provided by McHenry’s family.

“It’s a community that pushes me to get to that point, it’s my entire family pouring out their love and support for me, the community is wishing me the best and praying for me. So that’s the journey: it’s showing who I am, how I was raised and then putting my work into performing at the pageant,” McHenry said.

McHenry has been competing in pageants for some time and holds the 2015 Junior Miss Muscogee (Creek) Nation title. Seeing other princesses contribute to their communities initially inspired McHenry to compete.

“I saw the title holders and how they were greeted by the community, how they volunteered and how they would just stop and talk to the kids when they came up to them. That was just something that I held in high regard. Like it was so great for me to see these representatives and see how they hold themselves in the community and what they stand for,” McHenry said.

When McHenry won Junior Miss MCN in 2015, it helped her become more involved in her community and culture. “I understand that the youth are the key to what passes on these traditions and values,” McHenry said.

McHenry was inspired by many strong women in her life, including her great-grandmother, grandmother, sister and mother. McHenry said her great-grandmother and grandmother have always been generous women and never asked for anything in return. McHenry wants to pass on this legacy by helping others become providers and pillars on which others can lean. McHenry knows her family’s love keeps their traditions alive.

“They do these things, not for any kind of consideration or title, they do it because they’re supposed to, because it’s family and you’re supposed to show love to your family and teach your kids,” McHenry said. .

Parades through the years

McHenry participated in the Miss Indian World 2023 and started preparing for it in July 2022. Although McHenry did not take home a title that year, she was grateful for the experience. Her experience was so positive that she knew she wanted to participate again this year.

Last year, McHenry focused mainly on the talent portion of the competition. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to devote as much time to other categories, such as writing essays and interviews. This year, McHenry gave more attention to each category. To prepare for the interview, she had her nieces read practice questions. For essay preparation, McHenry worked with Dr. Lauren W. Yowelunh McLester-Davis (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin).

“I trusted her with that process, she actually won the best essay in last year’s competition, so I thought if she won, she could definitely help me build myself up and express myself better. Another reason I do these things is to create such network connections. If I had never attended the pageant and she had never attended the pageant, we would never have crossed paths and built this great relationship,” McHenry said. “I’m so grateful because you can do things yourself, but it’s also best to get other people involved to help you make yourself better,” McHenry said.

Participating in pageants has taught McHenry many values ​​and lessons. It taught her to work hard, to speak well, to connect with other people and to use time efficiently. These are skills that have helped her immensely as a graduate student.

When asked about advice McHenry has for others about pageants, she said she encourages everyone to participate. She wants others to know that pageantry is not one-dimensional, and that it is an experience that can help others in the future. For McHenry, she loves the spirit of competition, even if it means not winning.

“Even if you don’t win, there is always something to be gained from putting yourself out there, especially in the pageantry world. You learn time management, you learn networking and social skills. You will learn how to stand up for yourself, speak up and find your voice. I would encourage everyone to just go for it, because there is so much to gain. Even if there are hundreds of things to win, even if you win just one thing, you are better than what you went for,” McHenry said.