Astokomii Smith is beginning her reign as the 2019 First Nations Princess, the Calgary Stampede announced Sunday at the Carriage House Inn.
It marks the first year the role has taken on the new “First Nations” title since officials changed it from “Indian” last year. The First Nations Princess will make hundreds of appearances locally, nationally and internationally to educate people about Indigenous culture and the ties to the Calgary Stampede.
Smith, 19, is a fancy shawl dancer from the Siksika Nation who recently graduated from Siksika Outreach and received the Governor General’s Award for Highest Academics. She is the Indigenous Liaison for the Town of Strathmore, the Stampede said.
“I know that Astokomii will represent the five nations of Treaty 7 and the Calgary Stampede beautifully,” said Mackenzi Mitchell, a member of the Calgary Stampede First Nations Princess committee, in a news release.
Astokomii translates to “Calling Thunder” and “Voice of Thunder” in Blackfoot. According to the Stampede, Smith attends powwows with her grandmother and was initiated into the Medicine Pipe Society.
Earlier in the day, a transfer ceremony was held where 2018 princess Cieran Starlight passed the new crown to Smith.
For the past two weeks, six women participated in the competition which included public speaking and traditional dance performances.
“It was incredible to watch these six young women demonstrate their culture during the competition,” Mitchell said. “Not only do these women have a vast knowledge of their culture, they are poised, well-spoken and educated individuals.”