Tuesday, September 1, 2015

New Miss Cherokee Has County Roots

Northeastern State University (NSU) senior Ja-Li-Si Pittman, 21, is the new Miss Cherokee after being crowned Saturday during a leadership competition at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Tahlequah.

Pittman receives a $3,000 scholarship and for the next year will represent the Cherokee Nation as a goodwill ambassador to promote the government, history, language and culture of the Cherokee people.

Pittman is the daughter of Pete and Ginny Pittman. Ginny Pittman grew up in Nicut.

The new Miss Cherokee competed against three other young women for the crown. The Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition judged contestants on their use of the Cherokee language, cultural and platform presentations, and impromptu interviews.

Miss Cherokee first runner-up was Jackie Eagle of Gore who earned a $2,000 scholarship. Second runner-up was Brooke Bailey of Hulbert who earned a $1,000 scholarship.

Pittman said, "Being Miss Cherokee is nothing to take lightly. It's such a high honor and means I need to continue to be a good role model and do the best I can to represent the tribe. I didn't expect it and hated to cry, because when Chief Baker hugged me I soaked his shirt a little."

Pittman of Tahlequah is studying psychology with a minor in chemistry. She wants to pursue a career as a psychiatrist. She is currently the vice president of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council and former secretary of Native American Students Association. She also volunteers on mission trips each summer with her church and was an intern with Baptist Collegiate  Ministry at NSU.

For her cultural presentation. Pittman composed a piano piece and sng Orphan Child in Cherokee. Her mother is bilingual and Cherokee is her first language. Pittman's platform tackled youth needing strong mentors in school.

"I'd like to use my platform to speak to students in rural schools about overcoming some of the issues they face, and I can't think of a better way to serve my tribe," she said.

Pittman's first public event as Miss Cherokee will be Saturday's State of the Nation Address at the 63rd Cherokee National Holiday in Tahlequah.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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