Gila River Royalty reflect on the year so far as they reach their midpoint

Kyle Knox

Gila River Indian News


Miss Gila River Tyler Owens and Jr. Miss Gila River Susanna Osife have had a memorable six months. Approaching the midpoint, both reflect on their experiences. They shared insights of their tribal royalty journey serving as ambassadors for the Gila River Indian Community on their travels, and how they have begun preparing for the 2020 pageant.


From the outside looking in, tribal royalty only appears as a fun-filled travel fest to pageants and events where one only needs to perfect a smile and wave. It is much more than that. Owens and Osife have had to balance school, family, work, pageant responsibilities, and personal time. Though the responsibility is enormous, they are learning to manage everything along the way.


Looking back, they have many stories about what they’ve heard or seen in the six months serving. For example, at Disney World, while dining with Disney princesses’, Belle (Beauty and the Beast) referred to both as “Real Life Princesses.” And while waiting in line for a ride, they were “Googled” by a curious stranger who then eagerly asked them about their title and the Community they represent.  These cases are examples of the education both must provide with everyone interested in learning about the Gila River Indian Community.  


While they have many responsibilities, and endure situations unique to their roles, they find a sisterly comfort in one another.  When asked of their best memories to date both agree that venturing out together has been the highlight so far. Being tasked with many engagements can wear on one person alone. Both are most thankful for having someone to share those experiences. They also admit that having a full court of attendees would have been great so that they would have a group to bond with. 


Recruitment is integral to a successful pageant next year and both offer advice to anyone considering. 

For anyone even thinking about running, Tyler said, “Just go for it, because whether selected as the Miss or Jr. Miss you get to learn more about yourself and the Community.” Tyler says the application and pageant process is an exercise that allows one to consider what you envision doing for the Community. 


Susanna admits that she had her hesitations before applying but dismisses those now. She said, “I was in a position where I asked myself, ‘Should I run? Should I not?’ and didn’t know what the outcome would be, but the experience turned out to be great.” Susanna recognizes the young woman she’s becoming and is thankful that she decided to run.   


Moving forward, they are excited to be graduating from each of their schools two months after their reign ends. But before that, they remain focused on carrying out their title responsibilities. That will also include the informational events about the pageant and title to be held in the Community leading up to the March 2020 Pageant.