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Desiree Jumper, Jo Jo Osceola Millennium Princesses 2000-2001By E. Bowers
HOLLYWOOD - Desiree Jumper, of the Big Cypress Reservation, was crowned Miss Seminole Princess on Aug. 12 , in front of a standing room only crowd at the Seminole Headquarters Auditorium. Only moments before, Jo-Jo Osceola, of the Hollywood Reservation, had been crowned Junior Miss Seminole princess.
Desiree, of the Panther Clan, is the 17-year old daughter of Danny Jumper and Jeanette Cypress. A former holder of the Jr. Miss Seminole title, she seemed stunned by the announcement.
"I was so excited," said Jumper, who will be a senior at Clewiston High School, "I didn't know what to say when they handed me the microphone!"
The Miss Seminole title is the second pageant success Desiree has had this year. She is currently the reigning Miss Sugar, having won that title at the annual Sugar Festival in Clewiston on April 29.
Also sharing in the celebration was newly crowned Jr. Miss Seminole, Jo-Jo Osceola, 13, who follows her sister Mercedes Osceola as Jr. Miss Seminole. Jo-Jo, who will be an eighth grader at Sheridan Hills Christian School, is the daughter of Joe Dan and Virginia Osceola.
Last year, Virginia coaxed Jo-Jo into entering the Jr. Miss contest with tickets to the Backstreet Boys. This year?
"Nothing!" said Virginia with a wide smile. "I didn't bribe her with anything!"
The theme for the pageant, which clocked in at just over four hours long, was "The First Seminole Princess of the Millennium."
Opening the program was Sonny Billie, who performed the Call of the Clans' Prayer. Then Chairman James Billie introduced the Tribal Clan Judges, a part of the changes made by the Chairman's Princess Staff for this Princess Pageant.
The judges included: Bird- Barbara Billie Holt, Charles Hiers Billie; Wind- Naomi Fewell, Ingrem Billie Jr.; Panther- Mary Francis Johns, Joel Frank; Otter- June Tiger; Oklee-who-ta-thee- Sue Jane Bert Cypress, Andy Cypress; Deer- Betty Tommie Billie, Willie Tommie; Bear- Louise Osceola, Amos Billie; Snake- Paula Bowers, Moses Jumper Jr.
The five celebrity judges for the event were: Circuit Court Judge Robert Lance Andrews, Miccosukee Tribal Chairman Billy Cypress, Coconut Creek Mayor Marilyn Gerber, Tom Burch, President of Burch Wet Blade Inc., and Wayne Oreal, owner of the Rustic Inn Restaurant.
The Chairman and his co-hosts, outgoing Miss Seminole Suraiya Youngblood, outgoing Jr. Miss Seminole Mercedes Osceola, and Seth Billie introduced the contestants. Vying for the Jr. Miss crown were Christine McCall, Jessica Buster, Jo-Jo Osceola, Juanalupe Frias, June Jumper, Pauline Billie, Tommie Hawk, and Trina Bowers.
Competing for the title of Miss Seminole were Alexandra Tommie, Cheyenne Billie, Desiree Jumper, Devin Cypress, Jill Johns, Lenora Roberts, Megan Yescas, Rachel Billie, and Rena Frank.
When the Chairman's Office began to organize the Millennium Princess Pageant, it was made clear the most valuable asset the contestants could possess would be knowledge of Seminole History and culture. The talent and question and answer portions of the pageant reflected the changes.
Christine McCall began the Jr. Miss Talent category with a narration of historical pictures detailing Seminole housing and everyday life. Jessica Buster and Trina Bowers sang, "Black Water Bayou" and "Hallelujah," respectively. Juanalupe Frias described the importance of the turtle shell and can rattles in Seminole culture.
Pauline Billie retold the legend of the Deer and the Rabbit. June Jumper, who was awarded Miss Congeniality, reminisced about the carving lessons given to her by legendary canoe maker Henry John Billie. Tommie Hawk, who was the winner in the Talent category performed a piece on the Native American Flute. Jo-Jo Osceola detailed the construction and use of the chickee.
The Miss Seminole Talent category began with contestant Alexandra Tommie, who identified, and described the use of, various medicinal plants and herbs. Cheyenne Billie and Lenora Roberts each shared with the audience a sample of their Seminole patchwork.
Rena Frank recounted the "Legend of the Kissimmee River." Jill Johns with the help of Happy Jones, showed the audience how to recreate the traditional Seminole women's hairstyle using a hairnet and headboard. Megan Yescas shared traditional Indian beliefs about love and marriage. Rachel Billie described how to construct a Seminole chickee.
Devin Cypress, who was later awarded Miss Congeniality, showed how to make a Seminole doll out of palmetto fiber. Desiree Jumper narrated a short film of her learning to tan a deer hide, something that her family has done for many generations.
After a short intermission and entertainment by the hip-hop performers Created 4 Greatness and the dancers of the Culture Shock Showcase 2000 (featuring children from the Big Cypress Reservation), the contestants had to demonstrate their knowledge of Seminole culture in the Question and Answer category.
Questions such as; "What are the medicine colors and what do they stand for?" and "Who is the President of the United States and how long is his term of office?" required the contestants have command of both Seminole culture and contemporary social issues.
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