MAY 12, 1909

CHEROKEE NORMA DES CYGNE SMALLWOOD BORN—1ST NATIVE AMERICAN MISS AMERICA

Raised in Bristow, Oklahoma, Norma graduated from high school at age 16 and was an art major in her sophomore year at Oklahoma State College when she competed for the Miss America crown. Her hobbies were swimming, dancing, and horseback riding. She also was captain of her college hockey team. Norma came in first in bathing suit and evening gown categories. Upon victory, she stated she “might leave college for a year” and looked at her tenure as Miss America from a financial standpoint. Norma became the poster girl for Meadows Washing Machines and Westinghouse Electric, in addition to many others. It was said she made approximately $100,000 during her year. Norma spent the rest of her life quietly and became quite involved with charitable work through St. James Episcopal Church in Wichita, Kansas, before her passing there in May 8, 1966.

Source: “1926, Norma Smallwood, Tulsa, Oklahoma,” Miss America.  Retrieved 10/25/2021, http://www.missamerica.org/our-miss-americas/1920/1926.asp
Photo: Bain News Service, 9/27/1927. Public Domain. Source: George Grantham Bain collection, United States Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division under the digital ID ggbain 31220, Norma Smallwood (loc.gov)

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