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Indigenous ambassador: Miss Indian World spreads positive message

In the past year as Miss Indian World, Danielle Ta’Sheena Finn has traveled around the world.

She’s experienced places in the world, she only dreamed of.

Danielle TaSheena Finn is crowned Miss Indian World 2016.

Danielle TaSheena Finn is crowned Miss Indian World 2016.

“One of the coolest moments from the last year is that I was on Abbey Road,” she says. “I walked across the road with all my regalia on. It’s crazy to me, because Native Americans don’t get too many chances to go to England.”

As she looks back at her yearlong reign, she’s full of many emotions.

“This has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she says. “I’ve done so much. One year is 365 days, and I was scheduled to do something every single day.”

When she was crowned, Finn was a full-time law student at Arizona State University.

By overloading on classes during the beginning of the week, it left her time to travel to her engagements at the end of the week.

“I look back at how I did it all, and I’m not sure how it came together,” she says.

Finn, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, is from Porcupine, N.D.

She is the daughter of Brenda One Hawk Finn and John E. Finn.

Dancers take to the floor of the Pit for the start of the Gathering Nations Pow-Wow in 2016. (Jim Thompson/Journal.)

Dancers take to the floor of the Pit for the start of the Gathering Nations Pow-Wow in 2016. (Jim Thompson/Journal.)

She competed against 24 Native American women representing different tribes and traditions. Each was judged in tribal knowledge, dancing ability, public speaking, and personality.

“I competed for my people,” she says. “When I was named, they announced ‘from Standing Rock,’ and I knew it was immediately me. I am the first to be crowned from Standing Rock. It was special because my tribe has been going through so much this year with the Dakota Access Pipeline.”

Being named Miss Indian World came with a lot of honor.

“Miss Indian World is one of the most prestigious honors in the Native American and indigenous world, and the winner will serve as a role model for all Native Americans,” says Melonie Mathews, coordinator of the Miss Indian World Pageant.

Finn focused on three platforms – suicide prevention, higher education and language revitalization, along with talking about her home, where the Dakota Access Pipeline was being protested.

“There want to put a pipeline through our only water source,” she says. “I think being Miss Indian World helped give the tribe a better platform.”

Finn also encouraged youths to reach for their dreams and keep furthering their education.

“I think when (the message) comes from someone like me, they listen more,” she says. “School isn’t for everyone, but there are so many other ways to educate yourself and make a better future.”

As her reign comes to a close, Finn is looking forward to getting some rest before she takes the bar exam in the summer. She intends to practice federal and tribal law.

“I’m going to be inside for two months studying,” she says with a laugh. “I can’t wait to start practicing.”