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|Wednesday, 19 November, 2014|
ISU NAU royalty: From left: Taylor Haskett, Layha Spoonhunter, and Nolan Brown. (Alexandria Alvarez photo)
By ALEXANDRIA ALVAREZ
POCATELLO — The evening of November 17, doors opened for Idaho State University’s Native Heritage Night and Native Royalty Pageant at the Pond Student Union.
For this year’s Native Heritage Night, an unprecedented pageant occurred — instead of having the traditional Miss Native ISU pageant, the pageant was opened to male, female, and two-spirited to compete for the title of either Mr. or Miss Native ISU or Native ISU Two-Spirit. The purpose of opening up the title was to give all students a chance to win a scholarship and serve as an ambassador.
This year there were three contestants vying for the title: Nolan Brown, Taylor Haskett, and Layha Spoonhunter. Contestants were judged in a private interview, introduction speech, two impromptu questions, and were to perform either a traditional or contemporary talent.
Before the impromptu questions, Drusilla Gould was asked to say a prayer to bless the food that would be served for the evening. Dinner consisted of salmon, frybread, stew, and blueberry pudding. While audience members finished their meals, Nolan Brown was first to present his talent. Brown played the viola and then finished with a freestyle rap at the end.
Taylor Haskett was up after Brown and presented her talent as storytelling. Haskett shared the Shoshone-Bannock creation story and intermixed the Shoshone language into her story.
Layha Spoonhunter was last and he gave a presentation on the importance of two-spirited people in Indian communities from the past to present.
As judges began to tally their points, the next performance was the Fashion Show that featured a collection of clothing and accessories made by Sun Rose Iron Shell who is a Sicangu and Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
Iron Shell’s fashion line is called Warrior Status. Iron Shell believes that through her expression as an artist and fashion designer, people can be a warrior and have that expressed through her collection, which uses various symbols and art forms from the Lakota Nation.
“It’s about being warrior status in everything that you do and being positive,” said Iron Shell said when talking about her fashion line.
Five female models and two male models were used to showcase her fashion line. Iron Shell said in upcoming shows, she hopes to have more fashion items for men, but this is the first show where she’s utilized two male models.
After the fashion show, it was time to announce the pageant results. For the first time in history, not only did a male win, but someone who identified himself as two-spirited: Layha Spoonhunter, a member of the Arapahoe and Eastern Shoshone Tribes from Fort Washakie, Wyoming. He will represent Idaho State University as Native ISU Two-Spirit for the next year. Taylor Haskett member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes came in as first attendant and Nolan Brown member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Klamath, and Ojibwe came in second attendant.
Spoonhunter was a little bit emotional after receiving the title because recently he had “come out” to close friends and family and he hopes with the title he can inspire Lesbian, Bi, Gay, and Transgender (LBGT) youth about always being true to who they are.
“It feels good, a lot of preparation went into this. And I’m really humbled to be Native ISU Two-Spirited,” said Spoonhunter.