Chickasaw Royalty crowned during annual Chickasaw Princess Pageant

This article appeared in the November 2023 edition of the Chickasaw Times

ADA, Okla. -- Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby crowned three new princesses Monday, Oct. 2 evening who will serve the remainder of 2023 and into 2024 as ambassadors of goodwill on behalf of the Chickasaw Nation.
Abby Gaines, 24, was crowned Chickasaw Princess, Jadyce Burns, 13, won the title of Chickasaw Junior Princess and Jagger Underwood, 11, was crowned Little Miss Chickasaw.

Miss Gaines is employed by the Chickasaw Nation and is a skilled artist. For her talent portion of the evening, she unveiled a charcoal rendering of three Chickasaw women engaging in a game of stickball that brought thunderous applause from a packed Ada Cougar Activities Center.

The 30-by-22-inch drawing was inspired by a photograph Miss Gaines snapped during the May 2023 Chikasha Ittafama (Chickasaw Reunion). “I was raised by a strong Chickasaw mother, so every time I look at this piece, I can’t help but smile. My hope is for others to look at it and see their mothers, sisters and themselves being represented,” she said.

Miss Gaines is the daughter of Wendell Gaines and the late Kimbrely Gaines of Allen, Oklahoma. The drawing was entered into this year’s Southeastern Art Show and Market (SEASAM).

Chickasaw Junior Princess Jadyce Burns, 13, celebrated the dynamic Chickasaw women who have graced her life as loved ones and blazed trails for Chickasaw women. Her great-great-grandmother was Pauline Walker, a fluent speaker of the Chickasaw language and a 2000 Silver Feather Award winner for promoting and teaching others the culture, heritage, and traditions of the Chickasaw Nation.
Her great-grandmother was 2007 Chickasaw Hall of Fame inductee Pauline Brown, also a fluent speaker and winner of the Silver Feather Award in 2018. Her grandmother, Gina Brown, director of genealogy for the Chickasaw Nation Department of Culture and Humanities, carries on the tradition by teaching Miss Burns about the history and culture of the tribe.

Miss Burns is the daughter of Jalena Walker and Sentro Burns. She is an eighth grade student at Ada Junior High School.

Little Miss Chickasaw Jagger Underwood, 11, featured storytelling as her talent with a rendition of “How Poison Came to the Chickasaws.” She told the story of how all of the poisonous animals – bee, wasp, rattlesnake, copperhead and others – pledged they would not use venom on Chickasaws without first giving tribal citizens a warning before striking. The agreement was imparted through a poisonous vine who asked a blessing of the great spirit to stem unnecessary sickness and death of Chickasaws.

Storytelling is a centuries old tradition passed down from many generations of Chickasaws and is celebrated for its poignant messages and lessons. Miss Underwood is the daughter of Shannon and Spencer Underwood of Mill Creek. She is a fifth grade student at Mill Creek Elementary School and is active in 4-H.

The three young ladies will represent the Chickasaw Nation at various important Chickasaw Nation functions as well as joining with other tribal nations at functions across the United States. Each contestant was judged on a preliminary interview, answers to questions and talent, and each was adorned with beautifully colored and crafted dresses, necklaces, aprons, and attire passed down for centuries by the Chickasaw people.