Miss Yakama Nation competes in Miss Indian World pageant in New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO – From a young age, Kamarin Gleason knew she wanted to compete in Miss Indian World. She participated in her first pageant at only three months old. Now nearing the end of her term as Miss Yakama Nation, Gleason is anxious to get her hands on the Miss Indian World title.

Gleason grew up in Wapato and Brownstown Washington. She graduated from Wapato High School and all throughout her childhood, people in Gleason’s life knew she would run for Miss Indian World one day.

Miss Indian World is the most prestigious cultural title for native and indigenous women between the ages of 18 to 25. The competition is an event where girls from different tribes across the nation come together to share ideas, traditions and goodwill. The queen is crowned at the end of the week during a POWOW.

Gleason said that throughout high school she grew to love pageants more and was motivated to participate by wanting to be a leader.

“When I was younger, I had a lot of different opportunities and I really wanted to take that further and give other children opportunities the same way I did,” Gleason said.

In 2020, Gleason was crowned Miss Yakama Nation. She ran on the platform of advocacy for things like missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, cultural appropriation and drug and alcohol abuse. However, Gleason’s reign came with a different experience than other queens.

“It was like a really tough time instead of being Miss Yakama Nation and getting to travel and have it be all positivity, we went through a lot of hardships and a lot of mourning,” Gleason said. “I had to be that strong person that always brought light.”

When her tribe was plagued with pain and sadness, Gleason remained strong. She continued her advocacy work in spite of everything. In her platform for Miss Indian World, she wants to focus on the youth.

“More than focusing on the negative and how to fix it and make it positive,” Gleason said. “I think I’m really going to focus on giving native kids different opportunities, fun opportunities.”

Gleason wants to provide different activities for kids in her community. As a part of this mission, she hosted a tea party a couple weeks ago to teach young girls table etiquette.

If Gleason wins the title, she hopes to travel to different tribes and talk to kids everywhere.

The pageant is this week. The talent portion is on April 28 and the winner will be announced at the POWOW on April 30.

If crowned queen, Gleason would be the first Yakama Nation native to hold the title.

“I cry just thinking about it but I feel like it would be so celebratory and like I said my two years of Miss Yakama Nation it’s really been hardship and mourning and being there through tough times,” Gleason said. “I think this is a positive light we can depend on.”

If you’d like to attend you can buy your tickets on the Miss Indian World website.

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