I’d like to introduce myself as your Miss Pottawatomi Nation 2016-2017. My name is Mary Shabanaa Bush. I am a citizen of the Gun Lake Tribe. I am currently 14 years old and I am receiving my education from Wayland Union High School, where I will be a freshman this fall.

I have traveled to almost every Gathering since I was born and I would always watch the Miss Pottawatomi Nation competition, in awe of how one young lady would have the opportunity to be the face of our nation for a whole year. I was excited to travel to Oklahoma this year, as I was going to compete for Miss Pottawatomi again. I competed last year and was first runner up, but with the attitude of not giving up, I went again this year. Now I am that young lady with the opportunity to represent the nine tribes of the Pottawatomi Nation for a year. I am looking forward to being a role model for the youth of, not only my tribe, but for all the tribes for one year.

I plan to travel and represent the Pottawatomi Nation at more than just powwows this year. I would like to use this as an opportunity to share with others about being Native American and that being Pottawatomi is about being part of a community that is cares for each other. It’s more than just my immediate family; we are all family and we support and care for each other. I plan to work with the youth of my tribe and others to learn that knowledge of our language and culture gives you strength and bonds to traditions that go back hundreds of years that will keep you strong as you move forward in your life.