By SCOTT MCKIE B.P.
ONE FEATHER STAFF
On a warm, humid night in Cherokee, a crowd of several thousand people fell silent as the microphone was handed to the youngest, smallest person to speak during the 44th Annual Eastern Band Cherokee Pow Wow. Little Miss Cherokee 2018-19 Morgan Hernandez took the microphone and dazzled the crowd with her poise and charm – a scene that played out many times during her reign this past year.
“It’s been fun, and I enjoy going to places to see people,” Morgan said of her reign. “It made me happy. I liked seeing new things and different kinds of people and just being a part of it.”
Traveling has been one of the highlights of her time as Little Miss Cherokee, and in addition to many events in western North Carolina, she has traveled to Washington, D.C. for the Cherokee Days event; the Cherokee Nation Holidays in Tahlequah, Okla.; the Choctaw Indian Fair in Mississippi; the Native American Festival at East Tennessee State University (ETSU); and she traveled to Tahlequah to welcome in this year’s Remember the Removal riders, one of whom was her father, Manuel Hernandez.
Her trip to Cherokee Days was her favorite. “We got to see lots of stuff, and I was just very thankful to be there.”
Samantha Crowe-Hernandez, Morgan’s mother, said it has been a good experience for Morgan. “It has helped her to be able to speak in front of other people, whether they are veterans, elders, children, any range of people she has just learned to talk in front of them. She has more confidence in herself, and it’s made her more aware of her surroundings.”
She said her daughter has grown a lot during the past year. “She was eight for most of her reign. Eight-year-olds want to run barefoot and play, but she had to grow up with this. It’s not a bad thing. It has taught her self-control, poise, etiquette, and how you behave in certain situations.”
Crowe-Hernandez encourages families with daughters thinking about running for a title to most definitely give it a shot. “It took her three tries to win and each year we learned more and more. It’s a great cultural lesson. You learn more about the clothing. When you’re doing your talents, you research the stories and traditions, and that just helps you grow culturally whether you win or lose. It’s not a losing situation because you get so much from it.”
She added, “Stay organized and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
Crowe-Hernandez thanked their family and extended family for help getting Morgan to the events. “When there are 10 events in a two-week span, and I can’t take off of work that much, I really used our village in that way.”
One way Morgan keeps organized is her “Little Miss Cherokee box” purchased by her Granny Rosie which is a bag that keeps her crown, picture cards, moccasins, and sash and is always kept tidy and packed. “So, if someone calls and asks us last minute, ‘can she be here?’, we can go,” said Crowe-Hernandez. “We have a garment bag with all of her clothes, ironed and ready, to go whenever she needs it.”
Crowe-Hernandez left with, “We’ve had a lot of fun, it’s been exciting.”
Morgan will give up her crown at the Little Miss Cherokee pageant scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cherokee Indian Fairgrounds. “I’m not excited to give it up, but I am excited to be home a lot,” she said with a smile.