TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Chelbie Turtle, 20, of Park Hill, was crowned Miss Cherokee 2021-2022 during the annual leadership competition held at Cornerstone Fellowship Church in Tahlequah Saturday.

As Miss Cherokee, Turtle will represent the Cherokee Nation as a goodwill ambassador to promote the government, history, language and culture of the tribe for the next year. She also receives a $6,000 scholarship, an increase of the previous $3,000 scholarship given to winners of the Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition.

“As an ambassador for the Cherokee Nation, people of all ages are going to look up to Chelbie as an inspiration,” Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said. “And it is truly inspirational how Chelbie has already expressed her commitment to sharing our Cherokee culture, traditions, history, and even her knowledge of our Cherokee government with the world. I look forward to working with her and Junior Miss Cherokee Leah Gardner throughout the coming year.”

Turtle is attending Northeastern State University where she is studying Political Science and Criminal Justice. She is a member of the NSU Honors Program, Native American Student Association, and serves as vice-president of the Northeastern Student Government Association.

“I'm super excited. This is something that I have looked forward to for many, many years,” Turtle said. “I'm just super thankful to have been chosen to represent the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee people in this position. I’m beyond excited for the year to come. I look forward to seeing everything that we’ll do​.”

Turtle is the daughter of Jeff and Lisa Trice-Turtle. She enjoys volunteering within her community, basket weaving, pottery, making clay and corn-bead necklaces, storytelling, and playing traditional Cherokee games. 

Turtle competed against two other young women for the Miss Cherokee crown. The Miss Cherokee Leadership Competition judges contestants on their use of the Cherokee language, cultural and platform presentations, and responses to impromptu questions. For her cultural presentation during the competition, Turtle presented the story of the Cherokee origin of strawberry and performed “Amazing Grace” in Cherokee. Her platform speech focused on “The Value of Knowing Your Nation.”

Miss Cherokee first runner-up was Kaitlyn Pinkerton, 18, of Claremore. Pinkerton was awarded a $3,000 scholarship. The second runner-up as Torey Snell, 22, of Tahlequah, who received a $2,000 scholarship.

Salina 14-year-old Leah Gardner was also crowned Junior Miss Cherokee 2021-2022. Junior Miss Cherokee first runner-up was Madison Dilley, 16, of Warner.

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