BISMARCK, N.D. (KXNET) — A mural of the first Native American Miss North Dakota USA is being showcased on the south side of “The Prince” building in downtown Bismarck.

SaNoah LaRocque is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians tribal nation and the first enrolled Native American to win Miss North Dakota.

Wednesday, she, her grandparents, and the community gathered to see the mural.

LaRocque tells us what it actually means.

“It is reminiscent of photographers from the 1800s, they would take photos of native American people going across the country and trying to document who these native people were and so Shane Balkowitsch’s project is meant to shed light on contemporary native people,” said SaNoah LaRocque.

She shares,” one thing that we wanted to make sure in this photo is that I’m holding a bouquet of roses in my arms and on top of that are my eagle feathers blooms and so the significance of that is just that in this moment where I had won a title and it meant so much to me as an individual at the same time I’m carrying with me my culture my people and making sure that those things are holding equal weight during my reign.”

She says being a role model for the community and Native Americans across the world means so much to her.

LaRocque enjoys giving back, public speaking, and giving back the most.

“Every day of this has been a super surreal experience there has been so much support from people across the state of North Dakota, across the Indian country, and to be able to see my family. I see my little brother just got here…my grandparents just got here you know these are the most important people in my life and to be able to bring them together for a celebration like this just feels really good and it feels like we’re doing something positive for not just our family and our native community but for the community of Bismarck in North Dakota,” said LaRocque.

She tells us to all those watching aspiring to be as successful as can be and make a mark one day.

“There are opportunities to grow and to move past whatever is holding you back in life. I’m somebody who has overcome a great deal of adversity growing up and I was still able to attend Harvard University. I’m now Miss North Dakota USA so anybody that’s watching this just know that the grass is truly greener on the other side,” LaRocque tells us. 

LaRocque hopes to continue her legacy and make a difference as she competes for Miss USA this fall with hopes to bring home the title.

Copies of the mural are being sold as part of a fundraiser where all proceeds will be donated to SaNoah to help her with the costs of the upcoming Miss USA 2022 pageant. More details are here.