Meet Rachel, the first indigenous woman to represent Minnesota in Miss America

[anvplayer video=”5154191″ station=”998130″]

Rachel Evangelisto is back in Minnesota after representing the state in the Miss America Pageant. She tells WDIO that the whole experience feels like a dream come true, “I wanted that moment since I was probably 13 years old. So, I mean, win or lose, I was going to make the absolute most out of that experience, and I did. Now I have 50 best friends from every single state across the country.”

And beyond that she’s pushing the boundaries as the first Indigenous woman to fill that role- as member of the Standing Rock Tribe. “Being the first person of anything is a little scary, and I wasn’t quite sure how people would receive me because I have experienced racism and negativity in my life. But I think, overall Minnesota was absolutely ready for it.”

Evangelisto wore an orange dress that was well-received on social media. She tells us that not only is it one of her favorite colors, but it also represents the Every Child Matters Movement, a cause that honors the children lost in the board schools systems. It hits very close to her: “My grandparents were part of the boarding school system. So many families and kids that I work with in Minnesota were part of that system. So I really wanted to honor them in some way.”

The top of the dress featured handmade, beaded Dakota florals that was made by Red Berry Woman, “I really just wanted to make a stand and say, you know- I’m proud. I’m Lakota, and I’m a proud Minnesotan. And this is what this looks like to me.”

During her time as Miss Minnesota, she’s earned nearly $30,000 in scholarships that have helped her pay for college at the University of Minnesota Morris. She’s got six months as Miss Minnesota, and she’ll be working as an ICWA Guardian ad Litem as well. In the Fall, she’ll be attending, Hamline Law School.