Makayla Sage thought it was going to be just another Denver March
Powwow with her family. But as one of the largest powwows in the world
came to a close, they read the bio of the next Denver March Princess
and announced her name.
Sage, shortly after she was crowned as the 2015-2016 Denver
March Powwow Princess. Courtesy Photo
"She heard the bio and turned to me with a strange, bewildered
look on her face," said her mother Laura Sage, Osage. "Then they
announced her name as the new Denver March Powwow princess. Her
sisters screamed and began to shed tears of joy. It was a moment
I will never forget."
Makayla, 17, has been involved in dancing and the powwow culture
since she was was plumed as an infant during Cheyenne Labor Day
Powwow, Sage said. Their Osage family belongs to the Zon-Zo-Li District
and they participate in the yearly In-Lon-Schka dances as well.
She will graduate from Ponca City High School this month where
she participates in track, softball, basketball, cheerleading and
The three-day Denver March Powwow, held in Denver, Colo., at
the Denver Coliseum, started out as a weekly youth enrichment program
but has turned into one of the largest powwows in the world. It
brings more than a thousand dancers each year, more than 40 drum
groups, more than 150 vendors, all from tribes across the United
States, Canada and Mexico.
There are dance categories from "Golden Age" to "Tiny Tots"
and winners receive a monetary award and embroidered jackets.
Prior to the announcement of her name at the close of the powwow,
Makayla had no clue she had been chosen to be the next princess,
a coveted spot by many teen dancers.
The powwow committee had approached her parents during the powwow
and asked if they would accept on her behalf. Her mother wrote a
short bio and kept it a secret.
"Ms. Sage has been attending [Denver March] since she danced
in the junior category. She is an excellent student, actively participates
in sports, and conducts herself in a respectful manner, both in
the dance arena and everyday life," said Grace Gillette, powwow
committee member. "The Denver March Powwow princess committee felt
she would be a great ambassador for their next year's event."
According to Gillette, the powwow committee does not hold a
pageant to select their princess, the Board of Directors makes nominations
and vote. The key to selection is participation and they make discreet
inquiries about their nominees regarding scholastic activities.
Makayla will be the Denver March ambassador and will attend
as many powwows as she can to represent her new title. She may be
asked to give presentations on culture and traditions and serve
on panels on the same topics, Gillette said. She will also participate
in American Indian dance performances and help judge pageants.
This is Makayla's first princess title and she is very excited
to be wearing the crown and title. Her crown and Denver March Powwow
Princess sash are fully beaded and match.
"My number one goal is to do my best and represent as best I
can for the Denver March Powwow committee and to travel as much
as possible so I can represent my title," Makayla said. "I want
to make my parents and families proud, at the same time fulfill
my goals as a young Native American lady and now as the Denver March
She is a member of the Osage, Comanche, Otoe-Missouria and Arapaho
She is the daughter of Louie and Laura Sage and has three sisters,
Whitney, Catherine, and Rickielynn. Her grandparents are Oliver
and Teresa Littlecook, Ronnie and Lillian Goodeagle and JoNeda Sage,
the late Bill Sage and the late John Hopper Jr.
"It is such an honor for my daughter to have the opportunity
to uphold and represent such a prestigious title. She is truly grateful
as well as all our family members," Sage said. "She understands
the responsibilities that it will take to be in this position, and
we hope she gains and learns life lessons during her reign.
"We try to teach our daughters the best we know how and raise
them with attributes that integrates both education and culture."