Autumn Rose Miskweminanocsqua (Raspberry Star Woman) Williams from the Shinnecock Nation in Southampton was recently crowned Miss Native American USA 2017-2018. The platform focuses on identity, connection to culture, balancing tribal and American societal values, and encouraging one another. The 24-year-old pageant winner earned her Bachelor's of Science degree in Mass Communications, with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Business from Virginia Commonwealth University. She currently works as the marketing and communications assistant at Peconic Land Trust
, a non-profit organization that conserves Long Island's working farms, natural lands, and heritage for our communities now and in the future.
"It's still sinking in," said Williams. "I'm so happy to be crowned Miss Native American USA 2017 - 2018. It's something I've dreamed of since I first attended a national pageant. My experience in the pageant was amazing I learned so much from each and every one of the young women I met."
Williams hopes to help Native American women achieve their goals. (Courtesy Photo)
The Miss Native American USA organization works to encourage Native American women to achieve their personal goals, build character, enhance self-esteem, and develop leadership skills. The pageant has operated for the last six years and a total of seven contestants participated this year. Each contestant brought individuality and diversity to the table. The contestants represented Native American women from across the United States, including Seminole Tribe, Navajo Nation, Hualapi Tribe, Inupiaq Tribe, and San Carlos Apache Tribe.
Williams was the first contestant from New York and represented Northeastern culture. She hopes to spread awareness with her platform but also create and support a cultural exchange.
"Learning about the multitudes of indigenous communities is an important part of empowerment, unity, and education," Williams reflected. "I felt that tonight and it was powerful. I learned from each contestant and we all encouraged each other to do and be our best!"