Rachel Evangelisto

Rachel Evangelisto

Rachel is from the Húŋkpapȟa Standing Rock Sioux tribe and grew up in Rapid City, SD. Working under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) as an ICWA Guardian ad litem, Rachel advocates for native youth and cultural preservation in Minnesota. She is committed to keeping Native Youth out of the child protection system and is working on obtaining her Juris Doctorate in Native American law to support this mission further. She is passionate about Indigenous sovereignty rights, racial justice, advocating for the Indian Child Welfare Act, and Indigenous representation. Rachel has delivered speeches, keynote addresses, and presentations to many different organizations about diversity and inclusion. Additionally, Rachel earned the honor of becoming the first Indigenous Miss Minnesota and will be competing for the title of Miss America in December.

Most Requested Programs

Authentic Conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion
As diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have become more standardized and desired in the work place, getting the diversity added often becomes a box to be checked. However, as a Lakota woman and a person from a diverse background, I know that diversity cannot be contained with a box and we must go beyond the standard of diversity in order to create authentic connections and change.

Journey to becoming the first Indigenous Miss Minnesota
Having been involved with the Miss America Organization from the age of 13, I never saw anyone that looked like me, represented me, or my Indigenous communities. Today, I’ve carved a path within this national organization to become the first Indigenous Miss Minnesota is our 86-year history. I’ve learned important life lessons of determination, advocacy, and never giving up on a dream along the way and now share those lessons with thousands on my journey to Miss America.

Women’s Leadership & Empowerment
On my journey to getting accepted into law school, becoming the first Indigenous Miss Minnesota, and lead ICWA Guardian ad litem, I have been supported and empowered by many women along the way. Indigenous communities function as a matriarchal society, where women are the decision makers and guides of their people. Today, I’ve been able to take lessons from many Matriarchs and use those lessons to empower others around me.

Celebrating Culture & Driving Diversity
Rachel’s social impact initiative as Miss Minnesota
“Across the land of the United States, there are 574 federally recognized Tribal Nations and more than 200 non-federally recognized Tribes, each with its own language, culture, and traditions. The Midwest encompasses 35 of those Nations, including my own, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Growing up, the community narrative surrounding Native people was entirely negative, and I was constantly made to feel inadequate for my Indigenous features and brown skin. I still recall the first time a teacher called me an apple (red on the outside, white on the inside), and the comments “you have a beautiful skin tone for an Indian” reverberate in my mind today. Growing up in a community that saw Native people as inferior was challenging and led me to believe that I could only achieve so much because I am Indigenous. Today, I fully embrace who I am, a young Lakota woman who wants to celebrate our tribal nation’s cultures and foster a space for racial diversity engagement that is open to all. As Sheryl Sandberg writes, “We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.” I will change the false narrative surrounding Native people to ensure that there is a future where every Indigenous child has the opportunity to succeed and not face the challenges I did. False narratives and Indigenous invisibility have harmful and long-term effects that normalize bias, discrimination, and racism. Ultimately, my own experiences and passion for cultural advocacy became my social impact initiative, Celebrating Culture & Driving Diversity.

The Blanket Exercise - Interactive Presentation
The Blanket Exercise is designed for groups of 6+ and can be adaptable to a number of people. This exercise was designed to provide an involved understanding of Indigenous History within the United States. Rachel has taken this exercise and adapted to Minnesota’s specific history with its eleven tribal nations. This exercise goes through deep dive of treaties, forced assimilation, boarding schools, the 60’s scoop, and the modern day foster care system. Participants gain an authentic perspective of Indigenous allyship and learn how they can be true allies and elevate diverse voices around them.