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Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux student competing for big title

Filed Under: Education | National
More on: native sun news, oglala sioux, south dakota, youth

The following story was written and reported by Brandon Ecoffey, Native Sun News Managing Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Charlie Cuny an Oglala Sioux tribal member is competing in the Miss Native American USA pageant on August 3, 2013 in Tempe, AZ.

Miss Native American USA is her goal
By Brandon Ecoffey
Native Sun News Managing Editor

RAPID CITY—Charlie Nicole Cuny, 19, an Oglala Sioux Tribal member and a 2012 graduate of Red Cloud High School is running for the title of Miss Native American USA.

Charlie, the daughter of Toni Montileaux and Jerry Cuny, is currently a student at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, KS. When asked why she would like to be named Miss Native American USA Charlie felt that she could use the post to help promote education to other Native people.

“If I am so honored to win the title of Miss Native American USA, I will utilize this opportunity to try and increase the number of Native American youth that pursue degrees in higher education,” said Charlie. “I believe it is vital that we increase the number of Native Americans that are receiving degrees and acquiring knowledge to address Native American health and social issues,” she added.

Part of Charlie’s passion is encouraging those same Native students who go on to higher education to one day return home to serve their people. “My goal is to inspire and influence more Native American youth to pursue post-secondary opportunities and encourage them to return to their Tribal communities as future leaders,” she said.

After completing her time at Haskell she hopes to continue her education at Arizona State University where she feels she can acquire further tools necessary to help her people by studying Art Therapy.

“I believe that Art Therapy is a great and unique way to address the needs of at-risk youth on reservations. Suicide, drinking, and drug use seems to be the solution for many misunderstood adolescents. I would like to use Art Therapy as a creative outlet for adolescents to express themselves and to use it as a way to heal,” she said. “I have faced a lot of adversities growing up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, such as alcoholism, drugs, and poverty. However, it has been these struggles and experiences, as well as artistic outlets that have allowed me to push myself towards my own definition of success.”

Recently Charlie has begun a fund raising campaign to fund her efforts towards winning the title of Miss Native American USA.

“My goal is to raise $2,000 by August 1, 2013. These funds are vital in order for me to compete in the pageant. The funds will be used for: travel, materials to make traditional garments, personal interview attire, lodging, and meals.”

For each donation made to Charlie’s account a donor will receive a handmade gift from her. The giving of a handmade gift is something that she feels is an expression of her culture.

“One of the primary values of the Oglala Lakota people is generosity. When someone donates to my campaign I want to reciprocate that same generosity they had shown me by giving them a gift that I had made personally,” she said. The gifts include beadwork and handmade thank you cards.

To contribute to Charlie’s campaign you can go to and search Charlie Nicole Cuny --

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

Copyright permission by Native Sun News

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