Office of the Governor

Press Release

Release Date: September 09, 2017

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office



  • Six elite Native artists collaborated to create a traditional Chickasaw ensemble for Miss Oklahoma Triana Browne to wear during the Miss America "Show Us Your Shoes" parade, conducted Sept. 9 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

  • Six elite Native artists collaborated to create a traditional Chickasaw ensemble for Miss Oklahoma Triana Browne to wear during the Miss America "Show Us Your Shoes" parade, conducted Sept. 9 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Elite Native Artists Collaborate to create ensemble for Miss Oklahoma’s National Debut

Six elite Native American artists recently collaborated to create an original ensemble to highlight Triana Browne’s platform – “Bridging the Great Cultural Divide.”

Miss Oklahoma Triana Browne will wear the ensemble designed and created to spotlight her Chickasaw Culture at this year’s Miss America Pageant “Show Us Your Shoes Parade.”

More than 100,000 tiny glass beads were painstakingly fashioned into detailed images ranging from butterflies to the seals of the Chickasaw Nation and the State of Oklahoma.

Rose gold, silver, black freshwater pearls, silk ribbons, and fine woolen yarn are among other materials used to represent specific aspects of Chickasaw culture.

Kristen Dorsey, Buddy and Courtney Parchcorn, Maya Stewart, Ashley Wallace and Margaret Roach Wheeler all contributed their artistic talents to create the ensemble inspired by traditional Chickasaw garments.

A pageant week tradition, the parade featuring 52 Miss America hopefuls riding atop convertible cars along the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk, is 5 p.m. EDT Saturday, Sept. 9, the day before the televised pageant.

The aptly named, “Show Us Your Shoes Parade” is said to have evolved from the Miss America parade in the 1970s, when spectators would plead to see contestants' shoes (“Show us your shoes!”).

During the parade, Miss America contestants celebrate the spirit of their home states through outfits and one-of-a-kind wearable art footwear.

Miss Browne, 24, is a Chickasaw citizen. She elected to represent both her home state and her Native culture during the parade.

Miss Browne’s signature item for the parade is a pair of turquoise leather booties – emblazoned with the Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation and the Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma. Father-daughter beading artisans Buddy and Courtney Parchcorn created the one-of-a-kind wearable art.

While footwear is the focus, Miss Oklahoma will highlight her Chickasaw culture from head to toe.

Her ensemble consists of a custom-made hair comb, earrings and gorget necklace designed and created by Chickasaw jewelry designer Kristen Dorsey and a traditional Chickasaw finger-woven belt created by Chickasaw artist Ashley Wallace. Chickasaw artist Maya Stewart also created a silver and leather belt for the ensemble.

Expert Chickasaw weaver Margaret Roach-Wheeler created a small blanket for Miss Browne to sit atop during the parade.

Collaborating Across Miles

Even though the artists were working in different locations – from Oklahoma to California – the final product is cohesive and elegant due to extensive planning and collaboration by the artists.

The artists initially met and determined the inspiration for the color palette of the garment. They decided on the vivid colors adorning the Chickasaw Nation flag.

“We wanted her look to represent the unique aesthetic of the Chickasaw Nation,” California-based jewelry designer Kristen Dorsey said.

Dorsey created three pieces for Miss Browne, all steeped in Chickasaw culture and heritage.

“I created the pieces to reference Chickasaw jewelry traditions from our southeastern homelands. Each piece connects to our culture through design, techniques and materials,” she said.

Using rose gold to represent the ancient copper jewelry fashioned by Chickasaw ancestors; Dorsey created a one-of-a-kind gorget necklace featuring a four-direction symbol, an important element of Chickasaw culture. The Spiral symbol is also incorporated into the necklace. The spiral symbolizes wind, which is representative of each person’s passage from birth, through life and into the afterlife.

Dorsey also designed beaded earrings featuring an opossum grape design, which is a traditional Chickasaw food, in addition to a four-direction design, representing the four cardinal directions, balance and harmony.

A rose gold hair comb Dorsey created also features the four directions symbol and traditional ribbons, which were added by Chickasaw artist Courtney Parchcorn.

Materials used by Dorsey were carefully considered to accurately represent Chickasaw culture.

“The black freshwater pearls of the set represent our ancestors’ pearl adornment from the Mississippian period,” she said.

“It is so exciting Triana was selected Miss Oklahoma and even more exciting she will be adorned in Chickasaw designs.

“Fashion is a powerful vehicle for representing our culture, and I am happy that a new audience will learn more about our tribal Nation,” Dorsey said.

Miss Browne’s periwinkle romper is a modern take on a traditional Chickasaw ribbon dress. The ribbon dress is fashioned after European and settlers’ prairie dresses, popular finery across the 19th century Plains region.

The Parchcorns added detailed beading to the top and bottom ruffle of the dress.

Almost 70,000 beads were used to create Chickasaw scroll symbols and tiny butterflies on the dress ruffles.

Using more than 40,500 beads, the Parchcorns created the Great Seal of the Chickasaw Nation and the Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma on Miss Browne’s leather booties. The artisans plotted, designed, sketched and beaded four seals on two flaps, which were fashioned to the booties. The final product is a nod to the traditional Chickasaw pucker-toe moccasin.

The Parchcorns beaded about 15 hours a day for 3 weeks to complete the project, but Miss Parchcorn said their contributions was just part of an overall mission.

“Triana is not just representing our art work, she is representing all of us,” she said.

Miss Parchcorn said this project also gave her a chance to collaborate with artists whom she admires and support a fellow Chickasaw woman.

“It’s coming together as a people and lifting each other up,” she said.

Cherokee artist Buddy Parchcorn echoed his daughter’s thoughts by adding, “As Native people we like to always give back, no matter what it takes. There was no hesitation of us taking this project on. We are always proud to do something for the Chickasaw Nation.”

Margaret Roach Wheeler designed and wove a small blue, lavender and dark purple blanket on her vintage loom at Mahota Studio in the ARTesian Art Gallery and Studios in Sulphur.

“I was really thrilled I could use the Chickasaw flag as the main source of colors for the outfit,” said Wheeler.

“I designed in three sections so it can be tri-folded, and I wanted to contrast the dress with the blue, so I used a brilliant blue and a dark lavender as an accent for the dress,” Wheeler said.

When not used in the parade, the blanket can be draped over the arm as a shawl.

She said working on the blanket was an exciting and wonderful experience.

“For Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby to think of us – to have the artists work together on an outfit for her – was wonderful,” Wheeler said.

“The comradery among the artists has been really wonderful. It’s a newer experience for me, because I have worked in the studio on my own for so many years. To have this chance to work with other people, it seems like ideas feed off one another.”

Wheeler is grateful for the chance to give back to the Chickasaw Nation.

A weaver for more than 40 years, she opened Mahota Studios almost four years ago.

“The Chickasaws have fostered me. To be able to come and be around Chickasaws, which in my life I had never lived near my tribe, is very fulfilling. (It’s) like you are coming home. It’s been a wonderful opportunity.”

Chickasaw artist Ashley Wallace created a traditional Chickasaw finger-woven belt, tailored for Miss Browne. The belt features the double lightning design and it fastens with an abalone shell.

Wallace considers it a blessing to be selected to contribute to the project.

“Out of all the artists they could have selected, they chose me,” she said.

“To be recognized on a national level; to be asked if I want to participate and help broaden another Chickasaw woman on the national level, is a blessing to me. I will be able to share what I created with her, give her something she can wear; that she can show to the world and give recognition to our tribe, not only as a Chickasaw woman, but as Miss Oklahoma.”

Maya Stewart, a California-based handbag designer, created a silver metallic belt for the ensemble.

As a Chickasaw artist, Stewart’s designs are frequently influenced by the geometric lines of Southeastern tribes. To these designs she brings inspiration from her many years spent in London, New York, and Los Angeles.

The Italian lambskin leather belt features a fire design from Seminole patchwork. She designed and created the belt in her West Hollywood design studio.

“I am proud Miss Oklahoma is a Chickasaw and representing our great Chickasaw Nation,” Stewart said.

“I am equally proud and honored to be a part of this wonderful collaboration. I am sure she will be a great inspiration to our Native youth.”

For more information about Miss Oklahoma Triana Browne, or the Chickasaw artists who created her parade ensemble, visit www.chickasaw.net/MissOK.

Last Updated: 10/20/2016