MISS ANB— Charity Lewis was crowned Miss ANB last week, sharing the happy moment with parents Melissa and Floyd O’Connor.

Charity Lewis crowned Miss ANB

Last Wednesday night, June 12, family and friends gathered to witness The Catherine Tobuk Miss Alaska Native Brotherhood pageant at the Mini Convention Center.
The competition was between Victoria Gray and Charity Lewis, both 18-years-old and recently graduated from Nome-Beltz High School. The event highlights the preservation of cultural values, including subsistence activities and gorgeous handmade garb, by interviewing and showcasing the young ladies on stage.
Mayor John Handeland, in a crisp pink dress shirt and bolo tie, served as emcee.
With judges Tracey Buie, Bertha Koweluk, and Ashley Stickman positioned at a table towards the front, the rest of seats were mostly full with excited witnesses, young and old. Janet Tobuk stood by the front door handing out programs delineating the evening’s different components. Janet explained that her mother-in-law was the eponymous Catherine Tobuk, who kept the Miss ANB going for many years. Now, the torch has mostly be passed to Janet’s daughter, Marsha Tobuk, who sits on the Miss ANB pageant committee with Janet. This marked the 31st year they held the event since its inception in 1966. During the prolonged wait for the event to begin, people kept whispering, “They must still be getting ready.”
Both Gray and Lewis soon took the stage dressed in vintage familial floral kuspuks. They introduced themselves to the crowd, including the details of their families, and future plans.
Gray and Lewis are headed to college next fall, for education and nursing, respectively, and they both plan to return to Nome to serve their community. Mayor Handeland noted the utter importance and need of both their chosen professions. He also mentioned the importance of learning how to speak publicly, for which the pageant was providing good practice. When both young women were asked their favorite subsistence activity, they shared the same answer: berry picking.
Next up, the contestants delighted the crowd by changing into ornate Native attire that was handmade and included a variety of different furs. Gray’s fur parka was compiled of squirrels trapped over many, many years by her grandma.
Lewis dazzled the crowd in her red velvet parka with fur trim. Handeland explained the histories and intricacies of both the young women’s apparel as they modeled their traditional wears for the judges in front, followed by a runway catwalk for the audience.
As the judges deliberated over a seemingly long period of time, during which the room was rather quiet, Handeland joked that, “This isn’t K-NOM so I assume a little dead air is acceptable, instead of hearing me babble.”
Eventually, Gray and Lewis graciously took the stage to hear the results. Charity Lewis was announced as the winner of Miss ANB 2024, and crowned, to great applause.
Gray took the results humbly and with a warm smile, as both contestants were given bouquets of flowers.
Janet Tobuk assured the crowd that Miss ANB would have a float in the Midnight Sun Parade, June 22 at 11 a.m.
As winner of Miss ANB, Lewis will represent Nome in Miss World Exhibition of Indigenous Olympics, or WEIO, in Fairbanks, July 10-14. According to the website, Miss WEIO is respectful of elders from all cultures and agrees to share her knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Native Heritage. The winner will be awarded a $3,000 scholarship divided into two increments paid to the educational institution of their choice.


The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112


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