Rachel Evangelisto makes history as the first Indigenous woman to win the Miss Minnesota crown, with ambitious goals to make an impact

MINNEAPOLIS – History was made with the newly crowned Miss Minnesota on Friday at Eden Prairie, as 25-year-old Rachel Evangelisto was the first Indigenous woman to win the crown.

Evangelisto describes moments before she knew she had won.

“I stood there shaking, just waiting for whatever was going to happen next, and then, I thought, I was dumbfounded,” Evangelisto said. [crown] over my head, I just remember, “Stop, I need to appreciate this and what’s happening in my life right now.”

Evangelisto is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which is the Lakota Sioux Nation bordering North and South Dakota.

She is one of only two indigenous women to make the top three this year. For her, pursuing the title of Miss Minnesota is all about representation.

“I’m going to get over and break all those barriers and say I need to be authentic, I need to be honest and just share my experience,” Evangelisto said.

Evangelisto is embodying her legacy in every way, including the jewelry she wears every day.

“I make all my own earrings,” Evangelisto says. “I make my own ribbon skirts and I take great pride in using my hands and creativity.”

She has competed in beauty pageants since the age of 13, winning the title of Miss Winona to earn her place in the Miss Minnesota pageant.

When she fails to show off her skills in the Chinese martial art technique of Kung Fu Mantis, she is working as a defender of India’s Child Welfare Act (ICWA).

“I seek the best interests of Native American youth to protect children and foster care cases,” Evangelisto said.

After her reign ends, she will pursue her studies at the Native American Sovereignty and Law Institute at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul.

“I am delighted to be able to start my law studies and become a legal force, I feel, in the Country of India,” said Evalgelisto.

But first she plans to visit them all 11 Indigenous Nations in Minnesota and inspire the young girls who live there.

“Your strength is not determined by your wealth or any success you have. It is determined by your community and what you contribute to the world,” Evangelisto said. “And I want to show people that if you have a dream you can do it.”

Evangelisto will compete for the Miss America title in December.

For more information about the Miss USA Minnesota Organization, click here.

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