A New Queen is Crowned

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On August 22, 2015, Viejas Annual Traditional Gathering and Peon Tournament was held.

This event is held at the Viejas Indian Reservation in San Diego. Amongst the festivities of the day a respected young lady was crowned Miss Kumeyaay Nation. Autumn Brown will represent the youth of the Kumeyaay tribe. This is an honorable position that was earned.

On August 17th a panel of former queens and elders held interviews at the Viejas Tribal Hall to see which young lady would best qualify as a representative. This is not your typical beauty pageant where you think of girls parading in swimsuits. As Miss Kumeyaay Nation you are representing your people, customs, traditions and setting an example for the future generations.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Miss Brown to get to know more about her and what it means to her to carry such an important title. Miss Autumn Brown is a San Diego Native. She was raised on the Viejas Indian Reservation, one of the 18 bands of the Kumeyaay sovereign nation. She is one of four children, two older brothers who are attending college and one younger brother who is attending high school. Her parents brought her up in the traditional culture. She has been singing the traditional bird songs since she was very small.

Autumn enrolled in additional specialized courses taught by Kumeyaay instructors. From their guidance, she learned how to create the traditional clay pottery, weave baskets made of juncus, shape and produce several useful tools and sew traditional ribbon dresses.

Autumn emphasized that the Kumeyaay are not the stereotype that people think of Native Americans to be. Autumn explained that a lot of people have the wrong impression of them. They don't see us going the extra mile.

Autumn expressed that the Kumeyaay are strong people, good leaders, culturally oriented and have been here for thousands of years. We are not people of the past; we have always been here and always will be here.

"It is important we keep our language alive.It was almost lost as the elders that spoke it, passed away."

Fortunately with the collaboration of the elders a dictionary was written and the language class was developed. Autumn speaks a dialect of the Kumeyaay language as well.

The Chairman of Viejas, Robert Welch Jr. congratulated her and offered his support. His Native pride was evident. Autumn recently graduated from high school and will be attending Cal State San Marcos this fall.