Natalie Keyssar’s photos capture a small-town Native American beauty pageant

Each year, pageants like Miss Native American and Miss Indian World invite indigenous women from around the United States to represent historically disenfranchised tribes and celebrate their cultural heritage.

a person standing posing for the camera: Kerigahn Jacobs, Miss Teen Lumbee 2018, and Lyndsey Locklear, Miss Lumbee 2018, wearing their native regalia.

© Natalie Keyssar
Kerigahn Jacobs, Miss Teen Lumbee 2018, and Lyndsey Locklear, Miss Lumbee 2018, wearing their native regalia.

And in the rural town of Pembroke, North Carolina, which sits along the state’s southern border, a much smaller annual pageant takes place: one honoring the girls and women of a tribe that has fought for federal recognition for over 130 years.

The Lumbee Homecoming is a week-long summer event hosted by the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, and includes competitions for Miss Lumbee, Teen Miss Lumbee, Junior Miss Lumbee, Little Miss Lumbee and Senior Ms. Lumbee, as well as a veteran’s ball, pow wow and parade.

This year’s Homecoming, originally set to begin in late June, was canceled for the first time in its five-decade history due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But in 2018, Brooklyn-based photographer Natalie Keyssar, who grew up two hours away in Durham, traveled to Pembroke to document the festivities.

a person standing in front of a building: Mahlea Hunt, Miss Teen Lumbee of 2017, checks her reflection backstage.

© Natalie Keyssar
Mahlea Hunt, Miss Teen Lumbee of 2017, checks her reflection backstage.

The pageant is “a celebration of Lumbee beauty and … the empowered Lumbee woman,” Keyssar said over a video call. “It’s this joy in identity … it’s this reverence for the strong women in their community.”

Asserting their identity

Homecoming is a chance for the 55,000-strong Lumbee community to come together and take pride in its heritage. The women recognized in the Lumbee pageants become ambassadors for the year ahead, representing the tribe at various events to help educate people about its history and cultural practices.

The Lumbee tribe website says it is the largest tribe east of the Mississippi River, yet it is only recognized at the state level. In 1956, Congress passed the Lumbee Act, acknowledging the Lumbee as a Native American tribe but denying it the right to self-govern or receive federal funding.

In October, however, a committee in the US House of Representatives approved bipartisan legislation that would grant the tribe its long sought-after status, allowing the bill to move forward to the House floor. In the build-up to the 2020 US election, President-elect Joe Biden said he would back federal recognition of the Lumbee, which tends to be a “swing tribe” at the ballot box.

a woman holding a little girl posing for a picture: Mahlea Hunt, Miss Teen Lumbee 2017, prepares backstage for her farewell performance at the pageant.

© Natalie Keyssar
Mahlea Hunt, Miss Teen Lumbee 2017, prepares backstage for her farewell performance at the pageant.

The Lumbee have a unique history. The tribe’s faith is primarily Baptist and its members descend from several Native American tribes, including the Cheraw, that intermarried with Whites and free African Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries. Though the Lumbee lost their ancestral language through colonization, today they speak the Lumbee English dialect.

“There’s a pretty incredible rebellious, revolutionary history of the Lumbee,” Keyssar said, pointing to events in 1958, when the tribe famously drove away a Klu Klux Klan rally in the so-called

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10 Ways Women-Led Tech Companies Can Capture The Attention Of Investors

For decades, the technology industry has been dominated by men and male-led startups. The tides have shifted in recent years, and more and more women are entering the space and launching innovative and successful businesses. However, one challenge female founders in tech face is steep competition for investor dollars in a crowded marketplace.

We asked 10 women tech leaders from Forbes Technology Council for their best advice for female founders seeking investment dollars. Here’s how they recommend pitching your startup to attract investors’ attention.

1. Know your numbers and product roadmap.

I’ve seen women being asked more about numbers and risks compared to men. Be sharp in answering questions and be ready to explain your strategies to limit the risk for investors. When you have a clear vision and execution plan and you know important numbers in your business, it establishes more trust in the minds of investors. – Elnaz Sarraf, ROYBI Robot

2. Understand the problem you’re solving and choose investors carefully.

First, know your industry and the problem you’re solving inside-out, and present it in a business fashion without selling yourself short. Also, choose investors who share the same interests and values. There might be biases. Still, it’s critical to separate constructive feedback on your idea from mere biases. If it’s the latter and you’re downplayed and not treated with respect, then it’s not a good fit. – Diana Xhumari, Tegeria

Forbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?

3. Build bi-directional relationships with investors.

Building bi-directional, contribution-based relationships with investors is the right way to stand out. The ways women can contribute to investors include helping with their deal flow, inviting them to be on your panels and to meet strategic people, becoming their advisor, offering free services, and more. Make the contribution valuable and give the right attention. – Chaitra Vedullapalli, Women in Cloud

4. Focus on reducing internal turnover.

Big turnover is one of the main problems for modern businesses. To stand out, make sure to create an environment professionals will want to work in. Building a company with as little turnover as possible is one of the best ways to prove your business has a great atmosphere and endless possibilities and is a pleasant place to work at. It will also say everything about you as a business owner and an investment. – Daria Leshchenko, SupportYourApp Inc.

5. Defend your position with confidence.

It’s not enough to have tech knowledge and passion for the product. As a female, you must have deep knowledge of the data and analytics not only of your own product but the industry in general. And more importantly, armed with that data and expertise, you need to be able to defend your position with absolute confidence in any room, whether physical or virtual. – Kim LaFleur, Title3Funds


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Capture Your Perfect Moment with a Wedding Website

Not so many years ago, the proposition of a wedding website would be a thing of humor. For decades, wedding invitations created from custom stationary and mailed via snail mail has been the standard way of inviting guests to your ceremony and reception. However, with the advent of Internet, more and more people are moving with the growing trend of creating a personal wedding website. Some might think that a wedding website is an ‘extra’ feature to add to your planning, but you will soon see why it is almost a requirement with regard to an “all inclusive” wedding plan.

The biggest advantage to setting up a personal website is that one can display information for your guests and others to view well in advance of the actual event. With typical weddings, many guests come out of town and getting informational changes to them in a timely manner is crucial. Any and all changes to the actual format of the wedding can quickly be published on a website for all the expected quests to review. A direction map for guests that are unfamiliar with your area is also an added and appreciated feature. Setting up a website in advance of the wedding allows the guests to feel connected to the bride and groom, and allows them to feel like they are part of the planning. Also, the bride or groom can point out hotel accommodations and unique tourist features for out-of-town visitors to take advantage of when they are visiting. The possibilities of a complete website are virtually endless.

There are a few options if one decides to embark on having a wedding website. You can hire a web designer to create a custom design for you and your fiancé, complete with your choice of colors, styles and content. This person will usually supply a complete package along with the needed hosting for the website. Another option is going with an online website template, usually through a wedding website provider. These templates are pre-made, usually very easy and fast to set up, and only usually require that one fills out some forms online, and make payment. These companies can be found by searching for ‘wedding website’ in any search engine. Look for a wedding template host that provides some of the newer features, such as an online planner and photo uploads. If you are opting to only provide photos of your wedding online without a full website, choose image hosting. These packages are a great alternative and are a smaller, cheaper way to allow you to post your beautiful pictures on the Internet for all to see for years to come.

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