|The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun
News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.
Oglala Lakota Sonyah Shae “Soni” Clifford of Rockyford on the Pine Ridge Reservation hopes to use her new title as Miss Indian Rodeo 2013 to show Native American youth a positive role model.
PHOTO COURTESY/STACEY ECOFFEY
Local woman’s dream becomes reality
‘Soni’ Clifford named Miss Indian Rodeo
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Staff Writer
RAPID CITY — Sonyah Shae “Soni” Clifford of Rockyford has been named Miss Indian Rodeo 2013.
“It was an amazing feeling to be crowned as Miss Indian Rodeo,” said Clifford “and all I could do was smile when I realized that all my hard work, dedication and months of studying had paid off.”
Clifford, who is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, is the daughter of Shane Clifford and Misty Brave and calls the Pine Ridge Reservation community of Rockyford her hometown.
She graduated from Red Cloud High School in Pine Ridge in 2011 with honors and was an athlete who participated in cheerleading and track and field.
In addition to being an athlete, Clifford was an exemplary student as demonstrated by her induction into the National Honor Society as well as by being a recipient of the prestigious Horatio Alger and Gates Millennium national scholarships. She is now attending South Dakota State University in Brookings where she is majoring in speech communication.
Ever since Clifford was a young girl she says she desired to wear the crown of Miss Indian Rodeo.
“It was a dream of mine to represent the Indian Nationals Rodeo Association as Miss Indian Rodeo. This became a reality on November 10, 2012, when it was announced that the title was going back to the 605 area code,” Clifford said.
Although humbled by the experience she realizes that there are a number of responsibilities that accompany being named Miss Indian Rodeo.
“The youth are a main focus of mine because they are the ones that will hopefully remember and take something away from my experience,” she said.
In addition to being a positive role model for Native American youth, Clifford plans to make the most of her time as Miss Indian Rodeo.
“A few of the goals I plan to accomplish throughout my reign are making visits to schools, attending traditional community gatherings and going to as many rodeos as possible,” said Clifford. “I will not only travel to Indian rodeos, but also other rodeo promotions to help do my part to promote Indian rodeo nationally.”
The Miss Indian Rodeo competition, which was held in Las Vegas during the Indian National Finals Rodeo Nov. 6-10, has been highly competitive in the past. This year there were a total of three contestants, with the two others being from the Navajo, or Diné, Nation.
“It is an honor to be representing my community as a rodeo queen because it is something that is hardly ever done around here, and it is something new that the youth can look up to,” Clifford said.
(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at email@example.com)