ISU Student Taylor Enjoys Reign as Miss Indian World
By Andy Taylor |
Idaho State University political science major Taylor Thomas is trading going to class and cracking the books this year for canoe rides in the Pacific Ocean and helicopter rides in the Florida Everglades, among a myriad of other activities.
Thomas said she'll be back to Idaho State University in fall 2015 to pursue her political science degree, but for the next seven months she will be busy carrying out her duties as Miss Indian World. That honor was bestowed on her last April at the 30th annual Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque.
"I love school, I love ISU and the school environment, but I am taking off this year because I am busy with travel and speaking engagements," said Thomas, a 22-year-old member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe who lives in Fort Hall.
The daughter of Wendy Farmer and Jason Thomas, Taylor will represent all native and indigenous people as a cultural goodwill ambassador for one year as Miss Indian World.
In the five months since she's been honored it has been a whirlwind, and her obligations will only increase until she finishes her term. Some highlights of being Miss Indian World have included trips to Washington state and Florida.
"It's been a lot of fun at speaking engagements and my family gets to travel with me sometimes," she said.
In Washington, Thomas participated in the Tulalip Tribe's salmon ceremony.
"I got to ride in a canoe and bring back a king salmon, and to participate in one of their long house ceremonies," she said. "Being Miss Indian World is teaching me a lot about the different cultures within our many Native American cultures. "
About 3,000 miles away, Thomas spent time with the Seminole Tribe near Hollywood, Florida, where she participated in the Seminole Tribe's 57th annual Princess Pageant. She was one of three judges who crowned the new Miss Florida Seminole.
"The Seminoles are so different from us," Thomas said. "They live by the swamps in the Everglades, their clothes are different, their food is different, everything is different. I got to learn about their history, about how they lived at the top of Florida and were pushed down during the Trail of Tears and escaped into the Everglades."
Thomas has been a spokesperson for her tribe and taught other tribes about the Shoshone-Bannock culture nationwide at festivals, conferences and schools. Closer to home she has acted as an ambassador for her tribe, helping lead an international agricultural group on a tour of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation and agricultural enterprises, and making appearances at the Shoshone-Bannock Festival.
"Our people are known for our beadwork worldwide and I try to wear that whenever I travel," she said. "I've also been able to give the Shoshone version of the Lord's Prayer in Shoshone sign language. They've liked the style of dresses I've brought down. They've found me as interesting as I've found them."
She'll have plenty more engagements and adventures in the months ahead. She also served as the 50th Miss Shoshone-Bannock Queen in 2013-14.