This week Six Nations elementary school teacher Summer John is travelling to Albuquerque, New Mexico as one of 22 participants in the Miss Indian World competition at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.
Summer is Wolf Clan of the Cayuga Nation from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. She is the daughter of Joanne Thomas and Jim John and the granddaughter of Inez John and the late Ralph and Evelyn John. John is the only Haudenosaunee contestant this year.
Currently, John works as a Grade 2 Teacher at Oliver M. Smith Kawenni:io Elementary School. She hopes that her participation in this year’s pageant will inspire her students and all of the ladies in our community to run for the title in years to come.
Before she left for Albuquerque, she managed to set aside some time to answer a few questions for the Two Row Times.
- How did you decide you wanted to run for Miss Indian World?
I decided to run for Miss Indian World this year because the age limit is 18-25 years old. After this year, I will be too old to run. I was busy with school and starting my career, so I wasn’t in a position to take a week off to run. This year, I have the opportunity to run with the support of my workplace and family.
Running for Miss Indian World has always been one of my bucket list goals. I’ve met many different MIW winners through my travels on the pow wow trail. I watched my cousin Stephanie run for Miss Indian World in 2007. That was my first time at the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow and it was so amazing. There is no other pow wow that compares to it. I’ve been back three times since then. I enjoy watching the different parts of the competition, like the dance contest and public speaking. It’s really inspiring to see so many young Native women share their knowledge about their culture.
- Do you think that the role of Miss Indian World can be helpful to Native people?
Our young people really need role models to look up to. Miss Indian World is one of those people. She is an ambassador for our people. If chosen as Miss Indian World I would hope to inspire our youth and people to live healthy, active lives – I live life free of “mindchangers,” I exercise and work at being a positive role model for my family and students.
I also believe in lifelong learning, that learning does not stop when you finish school. We are always learning. I would hope to inspire native people to follow their dreams and never stop learning by promoting education, both inside and outside of the classroom.
- You are a dancer for jingle, right? Can you tell me about how and when you started dancing?
Yes, I have been dancing all my life. My Mom and Aunt Jackie started going to pow wows when I was a baby. I started dancing when I learned to walk. I loved dancing jingle since I was a little girl. There’s no greater feeling than dancing to a jamming song not having a care about anything in the world, being free. My Dad’s family has Ojibwe ancestry and I dance jingle to honour my family members that have passed on, and for healing for my family and friends.
- Can you tell about how you’ve been Miss Powwows.com?
I was Miss PowWows.com in 2006. I was chosen by the members [as] the person with the most votes. I spent my year travelling to many different pow wows and events in the area. I met many people and other princesses/ambassadors. I learned a lot about being in the public eye and more about myself. It was a great year of learning for me.
The Miss Indian World competition begins this Thursday in Albuquerque, New Mexico. You can watch the dancers at the pow wow and Summer’s dance portion of the competition streaming live online at www.powwows.com/2014/09/03/2015-gathering-of-nations-pow-wow starting this Friday.