NATIVE AMERICAN ROYALTY
hen Meg Edna Dick-McDonald competed in the Indian princess pageant during the state’s centennial celebration, she was just a girl.
“You’re just thinking of having fun then,” she said. “You’re young and silly.”
But with time, she said, she has a broader perspective.
“It didn’t seem like a big deal back then, but 50 years later, it is history,” she said.
As chairwoman of the Reception Committee, Dick-McDonald is working with the Nevada Indian Commission to organize the Sesquicentennial Honoring Reception for the 1964 Centennial Indian Princesses on Thursday at the Gold Dust West.
“We are honored to be able to welcome these 22 women back to Carson City after 50 years, to join in the state’s birthday celebration,” said Sherry Rupert, executive director of the Nevada Indian Commission. “Some of these women are making the journey home from as far away as New York and Alaska.”
Among those planning to attend is Aloha Callac-Jones who won the crown in the traditional Indian princess pageant in 1964. She will travel from her home in Florida to join in the Sesquicentennial celebration.
“I am honored and excited to be a part of the 150th celebration,” she said.
“And, excited to see the girls that I ran against, to know how their lives turned out and what they have been doing in the last 50 years.”
Deirdre Jones Flood, 66, said her community of the Hungalelti band of the Washoe Tribe in Woodfords all came together to help her create her costumes and float for the Native American parade, which was held the day before the regular parade during the centennial celebration.
“It was really unique and really unifying,” she said.
This year, the community is creating a float depicting early life of the tribe for the Sesquicentennial parade.
“We’re working at it together again,” she said. “We’re really excited about it.”
Until the committee contacted him about the reunion, Rupert Burtt Powers, 48, never knew his mom, Vivian “Vicky” Faye Rupert, had competed in the pageant.
It came as a little bit of a shock to the boy who remembers his mom, who died in 1981, as a sharp shooting prison guard.
“They had a competition and I remember her laughing because she out shot her bosses,” he said.
But she was also artistic, often collecting bottles to adorn with her bead work, and he can see how she would be a good candidate for princess.
“I don’t think I’ve ever come across anybody who had negative words about my mom,” Powers said. “Anything she got into, she was good at.”
It was also a chance to reconnect with the mother he and his sister lost when he was 15, along with most of her mementos.
“This is like recovering artifacts for these guys,” said his wife, Crystal Winter-Powers. “They are finally able to have pictures of their mother. For me, I look at her and I see him. He’s got her eyes.”
JoAnn Nevers, 78, coordinated the contest in 1964 and is happy it’s being recognized this year along with other Native American floats and displays.
“This is our territory,” she said. “They should have the Natives.”
And as the day approaches, the anticipation is growing.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the girls,” said Dick-McDonald. “I’m so happy these girls are coming from far away.”
For more information about the reception, contact the commission at (775) 687-8333.