Published On: Thu, Oct 4th, 2018

Perez crowned Teen Miss Cherokee

CROWNED: Juakina Perez, a member of the Wolf Clan from the Big Cove Community, was named the 2018-19 Teen Miss Cherokee during a pageant held at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 3. She was also named Miss Photogenic. (SCOTT MCKIE B.P./One Feather Photos)





Culminating a day of activities during Children’s Day of the Cherokee Indian Fair, Juakina Perez was crowned the new Teen Miss Cherokee. The pageant was held at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds on the clear, fall evening of Wednesday, Oct. 3. 

Perez, 17, a member of the Wolf Clan from the Big Cove Community and a senior at Cherokee High School, was also named Miss Photogenic in the pageant. Destiny Mills, 15, a member of the Wild Potato Clan from the Wolftown Community and a sophomore at Cherokee High School, was named first runner-up in the pageant as well as Miss Congeniality. Aliyah Bigmeat, 17, a senior at Swain County High School from the Wolftown Community, was named second runner-up. 

Following introductions, the pageant began with each contestant answering a cultural question. Bigmeat was asked to explain the Cherokee clan system and commented, “The Cherokee clan system is a traditional social organization. It is also matrilineal meaning you get your clanship from your mother. It is important for spiritual guidance and traditional medicine ceremonies. Although I was not born into a clanship, it is important to me to one day be accepted and adopted into a clan. That way, I can pass my clanship and traditions down to my children.” 

TRADITIONAL: Destiny Mills, a member of the Wild Potato Clan from the Wolftown Community was named second runner-up and Miss Congeniality in the pageant.

Mills was asked what the title of Beloved Woman means to her. She related, “A Beloved Woman is a designation bestowed upon Cherokee women who hold the highest respect for their service to the communities, their integrity, and their good character. She has passed down her knowledge of traditional foods, medicines, Cherokee language, and, most importantly, she lives a clean and Godly lifestyle that we should all try to emulate.”

Perez was asked who her role model is and why. She said, “My role model is my mother, Suzette Sanchez. She is my best friend, whether it is a good or bad day. She is a single parent to me and my four siblings. She has often gone without to fulfill our needs. Mom, I want to take the time to say, ‘Sgi! Thank you!’ for everything you do for me. I love you so much!”

In the talent portion of the pageant, Bigmeat told the Cherokee legend of the first woman; Mills recited the Lord’s Prayer in Cherokee, English, and American Sign Language; and Perez performed the Cherokee Corn Dance with Nathaniel Crowe. 

TRADITIONAL DRESS: Aliyah Bigmeat, of the Wolftown Community, was named second runner-up in the pageant.

The event was dedicated to the memory of Dorothy McCoy Smith, of the Birdtown Community, who was the first person to hold the Miss Cherokee title. “The pageant at the time was based on public speaking and formal wear,” said Yona Wade, who served as the MC for the pageant. “Dorothy was crowned in 1963 as the Indian Princess. This year, in honor of Dorothy, we will be crowning the winners (of the Teen, Junior, and Little Miss pageants) in former Miss Cherokee crowns…the Pageant Board takes great honor in promoting and preparing the younger generations to one day take the role of Miss Cherokee.” 

Perez was crowned by Principal Chief Richard G. Sneed in the crown of Kara Martin who was Miss Cherokee in 2007-08.