After their last exams, students usually plough ahead into summer employment, hoping to earn big bucks. Some jobs are more interesting than others and most likely Natasha Calf Robe/Ayoungman's position is among the more intriguing ones. This University of Calgary student will participate in the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth as the Calgary Stampede Indian Princess for 2003.
Calf Robe/Ayoungman, a member of the Siksika tribe, is in her fourth year of Communication and Culture and graduates next year. But she has her eye on a PhD in Child/Applied psychology, and for a very good reason.
"I want to go back to my reserve and open up my own practice. There's a need for a native psychologist," explained the 21-year old.
Also the Youth Chief of Siksika nation, Calf Robe/Ayoungman was reluctant to enter. However, she wrote a biography and made it to the semifinals.
"I was nervous at first but once I got into it my nerves went away," said Calf Robe/Ayoungman.
The competition involved interviews with judges, a cultural dance, a three-minute speech about the meaning of native culture and a 30-second speech promoting the Indian Village at the Stampede.
"Then they tally up the marks and you just wait," said Calf Robe/Ayoungman calmly.
And on May 4, 2003, she was crowned, beating one other competitor.
Her role will take her throughout British Columbia and Alberta, participating in such events as the Deerfoot Run--her first major event. However, Calf Robe/Ayoungman is looking forward to several events during the Stampede week such as riding her horse Lester in the annual Stampede parade and meeting people from around the world. But she doesn't worry about the Calgary Stampede promoting stereotypes about natives.
"The Stampede has always helped the native culture a lot," said Calf Robe/Ayoungman. "And it's always there promoting the Indian Village and it gives us a chance to share with people from around the world our culture and all the Treaty 7 tribes' [culture]. I think the Stampede has been really helpful in promoting our culture."
Following the interview, Calf Robe/Ayoungman left to clear up her degree situation with the Registrar. It seems even Stampede royalty have to deal with university bureaucracy.