August 20, 2013
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —LaNiece Belcher, of Tahlequah, captured the title of Jr. Miss Cherokee Saturday by playing the Cherokee hymn “Orphan Child” on the bassoon and delivering a passionate speech on the importance of music in school systems.
For the next year, Belcher will act as a goodwill ambassador for the tribe, promoting the government, language, history and traditions of the Cherokee people.
Belcher, 15, is the daughter of Win and Rhonda Belcher. She attends Tahlequah High School.
Ten teens competed Saturday in a cultural presentation, interview and overview of their platform for a panel of judges at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center.
During her reign as Jr. Miss Cherokee, Belcher hopes to start a grant program within the Cherokee Nation to assist Cherokee students with instrument costs.
In addition to the crown, Belcher also received Miss Congeniality and the academic and cultural presentation awards.
Cierra Fields, 14, of Fort Gibson, was named first runner-up and won the essay and traditional dress award. Second runner-up went to Deonna Toney, 16, of Sallisaw. Other contestants include Megan Baker, of Locus Grove; Elizabeth Burns, of Claremore; Autumn Bays, of Afton; Sarah Hicks, of Sallisaw; Elizabeth Hummingbird, of Stilwell; Danya Pigeon, of Tahlequah; and Tatianna Slover-Birdtail, of Tahlequah.
Belcher will be officially crowned preceding Principal Chief Bill John Baker’s State of the Nation address. The Jr. Miss Cherokee competition was held in conjunction with the 61st Cherokee National Holiday. The Miss Cherokee competition is 6 p.m. Saturday at Cornerstone Church.