SUU Crowns First Indigenous Homecoming Royalty

Mahala Sutherland during her Jingle Dress Dance

Southern Utah University has four new Homecoming Royalty as of Tuesday, Sept. 21. The Homecoming pageant featured eight students competing for the crowns. At the end of the night, Mahala Sutherland made SUU history by becoming the first Native American student to win the title of Homecoming Royalty.

Mahala Sutherland, a Navajo student from Arizona, won the title of Homecoming Royalty after performing a traditional jingle dress dance for her talent. During the question and spirit wear portions, she spoke on courage and dressed up in a huge SUU logo.

“I think it is a big win, mostly because I’m the first native to ever win,” Sutherland said. “The reason why I ran was just because I wanted to be the change I wanted to see on campus, especially representation-wise…it’s really important to me to represent.”

Mason Francis, the SUUSA Senator for the College of Engineering and Computational Science, won People’s Choice. Talise Mosely, a theatre major, won second runner-up after her ventriloquism performance and stunning fashion displayed throughout the night. Jacob Blake, a sophomore with autism who sang, won first attendant.  

“My favorite part of the night was honestly watching Mahala win,” Mosley said, beaming. “I’m also Native American, so being able to see that representation is so amazing. I love her so much.”

The contestants started off the show by performing a choreographed dance that they learned in only a few days. Four judges had the responsibility of determining the night’s winners, and it was quickly clear they would not have an easy task.

Students showcased a wide diversity of skills and entertainment in the talent portion. Samantha Slade, a senior, started off reciting the numerical digits of pi, while simultaneously making a pie on stage, all while blindfolded. Other contestants sang, danced, gave a monologue, and more.

The competition also featured a spirit-wear fashion show, where students showed off their spirit in everything from a cape made of SUU T-shirts to one of the contestant’s newborn babies in T-Bird regalia.

SUU broke tradition in favor of inclusion this year, as the Student Programming Board decided to combine the usual Mr. SUU and Miss SUU pageants into one event that welcomed all students regardless of gender.

Students will see their Homecoming Royalty again on Saturday, when they will be featured in the Homecoming Parade. More information on this week’s homecoming events can be found here.

Story by McKayla Olsen