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Meet Gabriella Lewis

2017 Happy Canyon Princess

Published on September 8, 2017 4:24PM

Name: Gabriella Lewis

Age: 19

Hometown: Spokane Valley

Currently living in: Cayuse (Boise in the fall)

High school: University High School in Spokane Valley, graduated in 2016

Tribal membership: Nez Perce. My Indian name, We-Ya-Tamou-Nunt-My, has been passed down through several generations so the correct spelling and translation has been lost. The closest translation we could find was Blankets Piled On Blankets.

High school sports and activities: Volleyball, basketball, tennis, photography club.

College: I attended Walla Walla Community College for one year and am transferring to Boise State University to study graphic design.

Occupational goals: To have my own graphic design business. I also would like to coach volleyball.

Past Round-Up or Happy Canyon volunteer involvement: I live in Spokane, so I don’t have a lot of opportunities to do volunteer work here. I have been an escort for the little kids in the Junior Indian Beauty Contest.

Community or volunteer experiences: I was vice president of the photography club. We volunteered at the animal shelter and took pictures to help the animals get adopted. I helped coach little kids’ volleyball. It was a great experience since I want to coach later on. It helped me see that it’s something I actually like to do and would be good at.

Parents: Kathy Lewis, Lapwai, Idaho. She competed in the senior and junior Indian pageants and watched Happy Canyon. After she married my dad, she started performing in Happy Canyon. Joe Lewis was born in Portland and Pendleton became his hometown. My father performed in Happy Canyon, except when he took some time off while in the Navy. My parents camped at the Indian Village since they were young. Their families camped since the inaugural year in 1910.

Family involvement in Round-Up or Happy Canyon: The Conners have performed in Happy Canyon since 1916, making me a fourth generation cast member. My maternal grandmother, Rosa Yearout, was the first Nez Perce women to win the Senior Indian Beauty Pageant in 1953. My paternal grand-aunts, Leah Conner and Virginia Conner, and numerous aunts also won the title. A couple of aunts and a paternal cousin were Happy Canyon princesses.

Favorite rodeo (other than Round-Up): Chief Joseph Days Rodeo because it’s another family tradition, just like Pendleton. A lot of family and friends go every year, connecting both my Nez Perce and Umatilla tribes. It’s also just a beautiful place to be and spend quality time with my family.

Favorite Round-Up tradition: The Junior and Senior Indian Beauty Pageants. It made a huge impact in my life. It’s something I look forward to every year, whether it’s watching my little cousins compete or competing myself. I really enjoy getting in my regalia and going out in parades.

History with horses: I have been riding since I was pretty young. I would always go to my grandparents house in Lapwai, Idaho, to ride during the summer. My horse, Miyo-xat, is a 4-year-old Nez Perce Appaloosa, owned by my grandparents, Jon and Rosa Yearout. Since he’s young, he’s still getting trained while I ride him in different parades. I’m also training myself to become a better rider.

Why did you want to be on the court: Ever since I was little kid I always knew one day that I’d become a Happy Canyon princess. I remember getting told, “You have to sit up straight if you’re gonna become a Happy Canyon princess,” and it just stuck with me. Whenever I would go in parades and other events with my regalia, it was always so exciting. I love when I am able to represent my culture and have other people be so amazed and so interested in what I’m wearing, the family heirlooms and beadwork.

Best part of the court experience: Everything about it is so different than I imagined. I never realized how close we are with the Round-Up court. I gained five new amazing lifetime friends and have gotten so much closer to my cousin, Virginia! I also gained another family; our chaperones Casey and Whitney Hunt have been the best support team. I am looking forward to Round-Up and Happy Canyon but I don’t want it to come too fast, because I don’t want to say goodbye to all the people. It has definitely been the best experience in my life. I have had great people with me through this. My parents, Jeremy and Thea Wolf, brothers and grandparents do so much for me. Everyone made a huge impact and they mean so much to me.

Favorite memory of Round-Up: When I placed first in the Junior Indian Beauty Pageant in 2010, the Centennial Round-Up. It was the last year that I could compete so it was really important to me. Once my name was called, I started crying and was so excited. It was a great year for my whole family. My brother, Devayne, won the hide race with our uncle, Brian Conner, and my dad won the wild horse race with my cousin, Jeremy Wolf, and I won the junior beauty pageant. As we like to say, my family had a Centennial hat trick win.


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