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Charity Lewis Crowned Miss ANB 2024

Charity Lewis was crowned 2024’s Miss Alaska Native Brotherhood (ANB) at the pageant held on June 12. The event held at Nome’s Mini Convention Center showcased the cultural heritage of two contestants, Victoria Gray and Charity Lewis. Both participated in Miss ANB for the first time. 

The pageant began with a welcome from guest MC John Handeland. He introduced the contestants as they took to the stage in traditional kuspuk dresses. 

The contestants took turns delivering self-introductions, sharing the names of their families and plans for the future. 

City of Nome Mayor and guest MC John Handeland introduces Victoria Gray and Charity Lewis at Miss ANB 2024. Ben Townsend photo.

Gray took the stage in a purple floral kuspuk originally crafted for her Great Grandmother Carol Piscoya along with a beaded beret gifted to her by her mother, Kimberly Piscoya-Gray.

She also wore earrings and a necklace made in Diomede with old ivory by the late Roy Piscoya as well as seal slippers made in Shishmaref. 

Victoria Gray walks down the aisle in the Mini Convention Center. Ben Townsend photo.

Lewis wore a light blue kuspuk crafted over 40 years ago by her Great Great Aunt Josephine Ione along with porcupine earrings made by her grandmother Delia Iyapana. Her hair was braided with red, white, and gold beads and on her feet were seal slippers also gifted to her by her grandmother. According to Lewis, they had not been worn for quite some time. 

“My mukluks I had just gotten yesterday. When I got them, they were so hard. I had to wear them for a full hour at work just to break them in,” Lewis said. “They haven’t been worn since I don’t know, 40, 50 years.”

Charity Lewis presents her outfit to the judges and audience. Ben Townsend photo.

After the introductions the contestants were guided through a question and answer segment where they shared the values most important to them. On a question about their favorite subsistence activities, the young women shared the same answer. 

“My favorite subsistence activity is also berry picking, because it is very family oriented. Whenever we go out there I feel more connected with my past family members,” Gray said.

Victoria Gray and Charity Lewis stand on stage in traditional mukluks made from seal. Ben Townsend photo.

The contestants then returned to a room behind the stage and changed into another outfit, this-time elaborate native attire made with various furs. Gray wore a hat made with leather and beaver and a traditional parka made with squirrel, trapped over the course of many years by her great grandmother Hannah Miller. 

“I feel very connected because my great grandma, this was hers, made by her mom. This has been in our family for a long time,” Gray said. 

They were then asked what talent they would perform at the World Eskimo Olympics next month if they were selected as the winner. Lewis hoped to perform a lullaby passed down through her tribe. Lewis recalled blurry memories of her grandmother singing it to her from when she was born to six years old.

“She would always sing to us in her living room before she had passed, I feel like I should honor her in that way,” Lewis said.

Charity Lewis models her red velvet parka. Ben Townsend photo.

The judges, after careful deliberation, announced Gray as the runner-up. With just two competitors in this year’s event, event-host Handeland made it clear who the winner was. 

“So that I guess leaves no surprise who Miss ANB for 2024 is, I’m happy to announce that the judges have selected Charity Lewis,” Handeland said. 

The announcement drew applause from the audience. Lewis’ mother Melissa O’Connor held back tears from the front row, reflecting on an exciting two weeks that saw her daughter earn her high school diploma and now the title of Miss ANB. Lewis shared that she was surprised to earn the ceremonial crown and sash.

Charity Lewis receives the Miss ANB crown from event organizer Marsha Tobuk. The crown is new for this year. Ben Townsend photo.

“I wasn’t expecting this at all. This was just something my mom wanted me to do. And I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s do it’,” Lewis said. “I never thought I’d be doing this, but it’s really a good experience. People should really get out and try.”

The two 18 year olds have plans to go to college this fall with Gray planning to attend Montana State University and major in elementary education so she can return to her community as a math teacher. Lewis plans to pursue a nursing degree at Alaska Pacific University. 

Photo Gallery

Victoria Gray's family poses for a photo after Miss ANB 2024 concluded. Ben Townsend photo.

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