Saturday, June 10, 2023

Evangelisto becomes first indigenous woman to win Miss Minnesota

Winona, Min. – Rachel Evangelisto made pageant history on Friday, June 17, 2022 by becoming the first Native American to win Miss Minnesota, representing southeastern Minnesota as Miss Winona.

So we talked to the newly crowned 25-year-old woman about what victory means for her and other Indigenous peoples, how she overcame her self-esteem struggle as a young Native American woman, and how it is that she represents Winona came to visit, even though she doesn’t live there.

Rachel evangelisto made history when she was crowned miss minnesota 2022 at eden prairie on friday, june 17, 2022, becoming the first native american to win miss minnesota. Evangelisto represents southeastern minnesota as miss winona. (courtesy photo via forum news service)

Forum News Service: So you grew up in Rapid City, South Dakota and graduated from Morris University in Minnesota. You live in the Twin Cities. So how did you represent southeastern Minnesota as Miss Winona?

Evangelisto: So my first exposure to Winona was through the family that lived there. The reason I actually decided to run for Miss Winona was because of my cultural background. I am an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, a Lakota/Dakota tribe. And Winona herself is on Dakota land, and I knew it had a really rich history with Native American cultures and my people.

FNS: So you don’t have to grow up there, but you have to have some kind of connection. is he right?

Evangelisto: It’s technically an open competition, so you don’t have to be from there. But in my judges’ interview he asked me why I love Winona, why I want to be Miss Winona. So they really make sure that whoever is crowned the next Miss Winona has a really strong connection, and we’ll do a great job for the region.

FNS: So let me test your knowledge of Vinona Vidya? Who is one of the stars of “Stranger Things” born in Winona?

Evangelisto: Winona Ryder

FNS: Yes! do you like the show?

Evangelisto: I do. I haven’t seen the next season, so if you have any spoilers, don’t tell me.

FNS: What do you see as the importance of being the first Indigenous woman to be crowned Miss Minnesota?

Evangelisto: It’s the honor of my life. This is something I dreamed about. As a young woman, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I didn’t really know my place in the world, and I felt very disgusted for being Native American. And when I looked at the organization, I never saw anyone who represented me or my culture. So, I know I need to see that when I was a little girl gives me goosebumps and that’s an honor.

FNS: You’ve said that growing up, you weren’t attached to your tribe. Did it change?

Evangelisto: I think actually going to the University of Minnesota Morris was like that big turning point, because, you know, I wasn’t super-connected with my tribe. But once I got to Morris, he had Indigenous professors and students and colleagues and other Indigenous peoples from across the country. So, I’m connected now. And I saw positive examples that I have never had before.

FNS: You mentioned the challenges you faced as a Native American? Can you describe how that was?

Evangelisto: Little kids using racial slurs against me. And I remember the kids making fun of me. There was an incident when I was a teenager, where I was wearing a ribbon skirt, which is a traditional type of Native American clothing. And I remember I was walking down the street when a car came next to me. And I remember the driver yelling at me to go back to my reservation and the passenger throwing a big cup of his trash and used tobacco spit at me. I remember it covering my body. And it really affected my teenage years.

FNS: It’s a terrible story. I want to ask you why do you think your victory is important not just to you, but to Native Americans in general?

Evangelisto: Too often, indigenous peoples have been pushed to the side of the road and haven’t seen themselves properly represented within any of our institutions. And I’m really proud to see that my generation is really moving forward to bring that representation. Indigenous peoples face many issues, such as the disappearance and murder of Indigenous women, the overabundance of our children in foster care and child protection, the overabundance of Indigenous people within our prison system. There is a lot of generational trauma that comes with it. And to see someone like me who has experienced that trauma and hatred and inevitably rose above it, because I wanted to bring the community with me and just show the indigenous people that if any of your Dream, you can achieve it.

FNS: If there was one stereotype or misconception about indigenous peoples that you wanted to change, what would it be?

Evangelisto: The first thing that is most important to know is that there are 574 or so federally recognized tribes and 200 non-federally recognized tribes. And many people like to think of Native Americans as a pan-Indian stereotype, when in fact each one of those 700-plus tribes is incredibly different. Everyone has their own language, their own culture and their own traditions.

FNS: Some people look at beauty pageants and see it as an artwork from a different time. Some turn a blind eye to them. Why do you think they are important?

Evangelisto: I feel like I’ve won over $26,000 in scholarship money, that I’ve graduated debt-free, and that I have the ability to go to law school with very little debt because of the organization. So many people watch that one night when Miss America is crowned (Evangelisto will compete for Miss America on Dec. 16.) But they forget that there are 364 days when people like me, other state and local candidates, can compete for their own lives. Dedicating their life and time to service work helping communities because they love it.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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