The 31st annual “Gathering of Nations” (GON) powwow crowned the 2014-15 “Miss Indian World” & she is Taylor Thomas (Shoshone-Bannock tribes). She scored the most points over 22 other native women contestants. She took over where Kansas Begaye left off who had a farewell dance, song & speech. Begaye had a “throw” away which is part of a giving tradition from the Dine'/Navajo tribe. As Begaye danced around the arena for the last time. Her family threw food & candy into the GON crowd.
Begaye was said to be unprecedented in her 2013-14 reign as an advocate for education, traditions & positive empowerment. She was also very popular among the GON crowd. Taylor Thomas won the 2014-15 “Miss Indian World” title with the most votes even though she didn't win in the other categories.
The GON had been running an hour late after the “Fast & Fancy” men's contest special went over-time with several dance-offs. It was sponsored by the GON head man dancer named Eric Bird. The athletic male dancers were split up into 4 groups with judges choosing 5 from each group. As the dance-off continued, the men were knocked down to 10 & 2 were chosen from a hat to compete with each other. The dancers had the audience members on their feet as the dance-off went to 5 dancers & then finally to the winner.
The “grand entry of dancers” was delayed until 7:30 p.m. from its' original 6 p.m. time slot. Before it began, an American eagle was brought to the floor. As an Indian song was sung, the male owner of the eagle went to each 4 directions & took off the mask from the large bird. The arena audience was on their feet with their iphones & ipads in the air as the eagle touched all 4 directions. It was a beautiful moment at the GON.
The 'grand entry” proceeded as 4,000 dancers came down the steps from the north, south, east & west. As the circle grew on the floor with all the dancers in each category. The women's fancy shawl & jingle dress were still coming down the stairs. They all had come from around North America to compete at the GON.