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'Miss Salish' Precious Paul-David attends Gathering of Nations

By Lailani Upham

Precious David Paul, Miss Salish 2013-2014, enjoys meeting new and old friends last month at the Gathering of Nations powwow. (Courtesy photo) Precious David Paul, Miss Salish 2013-2014, enjoys meeting new and old friends last month at the Gathering of Nations powwow. (Courtesy photo)

RONAN — When she was three days old her late great-grandfather Joe LaMere gave her a name that she has lived up to ever since.

The Cree translation is “Little Dancer.”

Thirteen year-old Miss Salish, Precious Paul David, a great-granddaughter of the late War Chief John Peter Paul, has been at home on the powwow trail since she entered the world, says her mother Felicia Paul.

She was already an active youngster at three days old where she took in her first powwow and has been dancing Indian since she could walk, said her mother Felicia.

Last summer she was crowned Miss Salish 2013-2014, at the Arlee powwow and has been representing the people with smiles, joy, with a fun social attitude – something she said did not come at first.

Precious said she was very nervous when she was first asked to represent the crown. “I’m really shy, but when I did the first two speeches I got used to it and it was fun,” she said with excitement.

“It’s like talking to a big family of yours,” Precious added. She said what encouraged to step out more and find the joy in public speaking was people, even strangers, telling her ‘good job’ and letting her know she did ‘awesome.’

Most recently she and her mother attended the “granddaddy-of-them-all powwows” – the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico. 4,000 plus dancers entered the arena for grand entry. She represented the Salish tribe with a smile and her fresh enthusiasm as joined the long line of other royalty of young ladies from different tribes.

Precious said she took in a lot of the activities such as: the Miss Indian World pageant; Stage 49 where Native comedian shows are performed and more; and even met Miss Indian Universe, a title she said didn’t know existed until she ran into her in the crowd.

Travelling to powwows almost nearly every weekend after being crowned with the exception during the school year where the trail adventures slow down, Precious said being at GON was like “another powwow” to her – except crowded.

The powwow arena is known as “the circle.” Precious is living her life representing the Miss Salish crown in a circle. She said while at the Miss Indian World pageant she intently paid attention to the young ladies presentations, how they carried themselves, their talent and even how they spoke.

She said her goal is to one-day grace the Miss Indian World honor herself.

The experience at GON was one to remember as Precious sat with other royalty from across the nation to watch the 23 young ladies compete for the World Crown.

Miss Indian World is one of the most prestigious honors in Indian Country where the winner reigns with the crown as a cultural goodwill ambassador for Native people. The ladies compete in areas of tribal knowledge, dancing ability, public speaking and personality assessment.

The contestant Precious was leaning toward won the crown – Taylor Thomas, 21, Shoshone-Bannock of Fort Hall and student at the University of Idaho.

“She didn’t mumble and she talked a lot of her tribe,” she said.

Although Miss Thomas’s performance was on the top of the list for Precious, she said she thought there were so many performances of the young ladies that were very good.

A huge enjoyment Precious gets out of representing the Salish crown is she has the platform to encourage other girls to represent crowns for their tribes. She meets so many people on the trail and says that’s what she loves the most about powwows - besides the dancing – is meeting new people.

Paul says her daughter has inspired the younger generation to take part in their culture and language. “She’s been encouraging these girls to share their culture and it’s not about going to powwows only, but to respect your people; to be role model.”

Paul says Precious always attracts little ones, especially other little girls everywhere she goes and teaches them as much as she can as she pals around with her entourage.

Precious said one big plus of having little one around is the chance to braid their hair every chance she gets. She said she wants to be a hairdresser when she grows up as well.

Precious says she has several role models she looks up to on the powwow trail, from backup singers, to dancers, to drum groups and other sidelines that are representing crowns for their tribes.

Her favorite drum group? Northern Cree.

She enjoys dancing every style: Jingle, Fancy and Traditional. However, her preferred category is Fancy. With all her energy, she says she gets a tad impatient when gracing the floor in the traditional moves and feels the need to break out in covering the ground in Fancy dance steps.

Precious’s other tribal affiliations are: Tlingit of the Raven Clan, Pend d’Oreille, Blackfeet, and Chippewa Cree.

CSKT St. Ignatius Council Representative Patty Stevens said she has spotted Precious at several powwows in all her 13 years of life whether the celebrations were near and far. “She is a good role model for all the young ladies,” Stevens said.

Her travels and representation for Miss Salish have been solely sponsored by her family and friends and not from the powwow committee or the CSKT tribes.

At this year’s Arlee Celebration her family will be holding a fundraiser with a special and feed in her honor.

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