“Your ancestors prayed for you to live a life they couldn’t, long before your feet touched this earth.” This is the message Rachel Evangelisto, Miss Minnesota 2022, presented to students in grades 6-12 at Morris Area High School during a program on November 16. Evangelisto is the first Indigenous woman to receive the title of Miss Minnesota. She spoke to the students about what this means to her and shared some information about her culture.
Evangelisto was crowned Miss Minnesota on June 24, 2022 in Eden Prairie Minnesota. She grew up in South Dakota, attended college at the University of Minnesota Morris and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. During those days she served as a tutor in the Morris Area school’s after-school program.
She was accepted to the Mitchell Hamline Law School where she hopes to obtain a Juris Doctorate in Tribal Law. She currently works as an Indian Child Welfare Act Guardian ad Litem for the ICWA Division of Minnesota in the Winona area. She was crowned Miss Winona and with that title competed for Miss Minnesota.
After giving her background and sharing parts of Indian culture, Evangelisto answers questions raised by students. She told them that her talent for the pageant was Kung fu which she has been studying since she was 12. She has been competing in pageants since the age of 13. She shared that in the top three of the Miss Minnesota competition, there are two Indigenous women and one of Spanish descent.
The students asked about the Dakota languages and her Native American name. Her favorite thing about being Miss Minnesota is going to events like this. She feels like she has come full circle by returning to Morris and visiting the school and University Campus once again.
Evangelisto was looking forward to the Miss America pageant that will take place on December 15. She really enjoys meeting the other contestants and making new friends. Her final message for the students was to always reach for your dreams, no matter your background.