Miss Oklahoma 2017, Triana Browne
Chickasaw citizen and Miss Oklahoma 2017, Triana Browne is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences with a focus in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. As Miss Oklahoma, Triana will travel the state, spreading awareness of her platform, “Bridging the Great Cultural Divide.” The Chickasaw Nation is proud to support Triana and her platform by partnering with her on a special project for the “Miss America Show Us Your Shoes Parade.” We recently sat down with Triana to ask her about her platform, as well as her journey to the Miss America Competition. Continue reading for an exclusive glimpse into the life of Miss Oklahoma.
Learn more about Triana
What is the “Show Us Your Shoes” parade?
The Show Us Your Shoes parade is a cherished tradition where Miss America contestants celebrate the spirit of their home state through elaborate outfits and one-of-kind footwear. Each year contestants select themes inspired by notable elements in their state. Past contestants have drawn inspiration from their state’s history, state bird, tree, flower and motto. As they ride down the two-mile stretch of the Atlantic City boardwalk, spectators shout “Show Us Your Shoes!” I can’t wait to show off my beautiful garments inspired by my Chickasaw heritage.
How is the design of the “Show Us Your Shoes” parade garments inspired by Chickasaw culture?
I was honored to work with several distinguished Chickasaw artists on the design, ensuring Chickasaw culture is reflected in each piece of the garment. From the hair comb to the intricate beading on the boots, the garments represent the unique aesthetic of the Chickasaw Nation.
The lavender romper was designed as a modern-take on a traditional Chickasaw ribbon dress. The traditional ribbon dress was popular among Chickasaws in the 19th century. The ribbons on the dress are worn for adornment, but can also represent family or clan colors.
The romper and attachable skirt feature detailed beadwork by Chickasaw artist Courtney Parchcorn and Cherokee artist Buddy Parchcorn. Butterflies, an important symbol to the Chickasaw people, were incorporated into the beautiful design of the beadwork. The Butterfly symbol signifies transformation.
Chickasaw artist Kristen Dorsey designed the gorgeous necklace, earrings and hair comb. Each piece shares a cultural connection through the design, technique and materials used.
The rose gold pieces represent the ancient copper working traditions of our Chickasaw ancestors. The black freshwater pearls represent Chickasaw’s ancient tradition of pearl adornment dating back to the Mississippian period.
The one-of-a-kind gorget necklace encompasses a four-direction symbol. The number four plays an important role in Chickasaw culture, representing the four directions of the earth and the four seasons.
Gorgets, a French word meaning “throat” or “of the throat,” were traditionally worn as a symbol of rank and status. Shell and copper gorget necklaces were reserved for the most influential tribal citizens.
The spiral symbol, etched onto the gorget, symbolizes wind -which is representative of each person’s passage from birth through life and into the afterlife.
The beaded earrings embody the four directions symbol, as well as an opossum grape design -which is a traditional Chickasaw food.
The hair comb also includes the four directions symbol and traditional ribbons. After European contact, a silver comb was worn by Chickasaw women with long ribbons that hung to their ankles.
The finger woven belt was created by Ashley Wallace, one of the few Chickasaw people who still practice the ancient craft of finger weaving.
Finger woven belts are a part of the Chickasaw woman's ceremonial attire. These colorful adornments were woven entirely by hand. Finger woven belts are always worn on the left, with the tassels facing toward the fire in a stomp dance.
Chickasaw artist Maya Stewart designed a silver leather belt, inspired by the geometric lines of Southeastern tribes.
The turquoise stiletto boots feature detailed beading by Chickasaw artist Courtney Parchcorn and Cherokee artist Buddy Parchcorn. Thousands of tiny beads in shades of lavender, green, rose gold and blue were beaded by hand to create two seals, The Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation and The Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma.
The Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation features Chickasaw Leader Tishominko, and reflects the courage of the Chickasaw people.
The Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma features a five-pointed star and the state motto “Labor Omnia Vincit.” Inside each point of the star is an emblem of the Five Civilized Tribes, with the Chickasaw Nation’s warrior featured on the top point.
Chickasaw artist Margaret Roach Wheeler weaved a beautiful blanket inspired by the colors of the Chickasaw flag. The small blanket was designed to lie on the back of the car during the parade; however, it can also be worn as a shawl.
What does it mean to you to be representing the Chickasaw Nation and Oklahoma on the national stage?
It really means a lot to be able to represent the Chickasaw Nation at the Miss America Competition and on a national level. I met with Governor Anoatubby days after being crowned Miss Oklahoma, and it was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. He is an outstanding leader and role model of not only the Chickasaw people, but all citizens of Oklahoma. I’m very proud of my heritage, and I feel honored that I might be an example for other young Chickasaw girls to follow.
How does it feel to have the support of these elite Chickasaw artists in a combined effort to enlighten the world about the Chickasaw culture?
I feel very blessed to be able to work with and collaborate with these amazing artists. Their work is incredible, and I can’t wait to showcase it to the world. Their support, and the support of the whole Chickasaw Nation, pushes me to do my best and really represent what the Chickasaw Nation is all about.
In what avenues do you educate Oklahoma’s youth about the Chickasaw culture and Native Americans?
I’ve partnered with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma City and Tulsa to teach Chickasaw heritage to young children as one of the topics. Being Chickasaw is something I love speaking about and giving the students Chickasaw words to learn. Working with children, I hope to spark curiosity and excitement about the cultures in Oklahoma and challenge them to continue to ask the questions to learn from their surroundings.
Tell us about the importance of your platform, “Bridging the Great Cultural Divide.”
Through my platform, “Bridging the Great Cultural Divide,” I hope to change the narrative from “they” to “we” and nurture cultural compassion. It’s really about sitting down, having a conversation with people who have different opinions, beliefs and ideas just so we can come together as one.
As Miss Oklahoma, in what other ways are you serving as a cultural ambassador?
I also have the privilege of being a Nike N7 Influencer. The Nike N7 line is made up of shoes and athletic wear inspired by Native American and Aboriginal communities. The N7 Collection supports the N7 fund and its commitment to help organizations provide sport and physical activity programming to Native American and Aboriginal communities across North America.
What does your Chickasaw heritage mean to you and how does your family celebrate your Chickasaw culture?
I was taught culture is the way our ancestors speak to us. As a multicultural woman, that message carries a lot of meaning because I went through a time where I didn't know myself or where I belonged. Once I started to learn about my Chickasaw heritage, I finally began to feel like I belonged somewhere and was no longer alone. My great-grandmother, as well as my grandparents, are highly involved with the Chickasaw Nation. They enjoy promoting our culture and passing on our history to as many people as they can.
Tell us about preparation for Miss America.
From the moment I was named Miss Oklahoma in early June, I began preparing for the Miss America Competition. Most of my preparation was focused on each competition category: interview, talent, onstage question, evening wear and physical fitness in swimsuit. Miss America is, above all, a spokesperson. I've spent a lot of time refining my interview and speaking skills, keeping up on news and continuing to develop my platform, “Bridging the Great Cultural Divide.” I've also shared a lot of social media posts and live chats. I can't wait to sing on the Miss America stage, and working with a vocal coach has helped me take my performance of "Summertime" to the next level. There are a lot of wardrobe needs for the competition so I've been spending more time shopping than ever before! Being in the gym and working out is a part of my everyday life; I've been training on a variety of different workouts to get ready for swimsuit.
What are you most looking forward to during your reign as Miss Oklahoma?
I'm looking forward to traveling all over the state, carrying my message of cultural compassion into schools so that I may talk with Oklahoma students about my platform, "Bridging the Great Cultural Divide." As part of my presentation, I share about my Chickasaw heritage.
Tell us how the Miss America organization has helped you attain educational goals?
Like many college students, I have obtained a lot of student debt. I entered my first local competition, Miss Oklahoma State, because it offered a scholarship - and I won! As Miss Oklahoma I received more than $18,000 in scholarship assistance. I'm very appreciative to the Chickasaw Nation for their dedication to education. As a Chickasaw citizen, I was blessed to receive the Chickasaw Nation Academic Scholarship. However, for the past ten years, the Chickasaw Nation has also continued to be a generous scholarship provider to the Miss Oklahoma Scholarship Foundation. If I win the title Miss America, I have the opportunity to receive additional scholarship assistance. The Miss America Organization is the nation's leading advocate for women's education and the largest provider of scholarship assistance to young women in the United States.
What advice would you give to young people who are trying to reach their goals?
When it comes to reaching your goals, know that the path to success is never easy but makes the journey worthwhile. Be sure to surround yourself with people who are like-minded. Practice positive self-talk all day, every day. Stay open-minded to all situations and take adversity as motivation. Soon watch your life manifest into the dream you've always had. You are capable of anything you set your mind to as long as you work hard.