Sydni Tangle served this past year as the princess for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. A new princess will be crowned tonight at the opening of the Choctaw Indian Fair.
Sydni Tangle served this past year as the princess for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. A new princess will be crowned tonight at the opening of the Choctaw Indian Fair.
Sydni Tangle’s year as princess of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians comes to an end tonight with the crowning of the next princess.

This passing of the torch, or the crown, marks the beginning of the 70th Choctaw Indian Fair which will run through Saturday night. Eleven girls are entered in the Princess pageant.

Tangle remembered this time, a year ago. She was one of 12 participants. She remembered the excitement of being named Choctaw princess, and the year that followed. It seems to have gone by rather fast.

“It has been a busy year for me,” Tangle said. “I have just graduated from high school. In addition to being princess, I played basketball. I really had to keep my time organized and balanced.”

“The busiest time is right after being named princess,” Tangle said. “The Choctaw Indian Fair is going on and you have to make appearances at different events. You go to the office around 7 a.m. and stay until after 1 a.m. with stickball. It was tiring.”

The Choctaw princess is an ambassador for her Tribe and a symbol to all of her people.

“I was one of those kids who looked up to the princess and wanted to be the princess one day,” Tangle said. “It was so important to be a good role model.

“The princess is one of the first that people meet when they are new to the tribe. It was a blessing and an honor to have served.”

Tangle traveled to events around the state. She also visited North Carolina, Tennessee, Oklahoma and New Mexico in her official role. On occasion, the princess is asked to speak in public before crowds.

“When my year started, that made me nervous,” Tangle said. “But now it is no big deal. You worry about stuttering but it really doesn’t matter. You just have to be ready at any time.”

Tangle was also a member of the Leake Academy basketball team. Sometimes, she couldn’t be two places at once.

“It was their first scenario with the princess but my coach and teammates were very understanding,” Tangle said. “My teachers were a big help. If something was coming up, they would make sure I was ahead on my class work.”

There were a few scheduling conflicts. One came during Thanksgiving. Tangle, the princess, was supposed to be at the Thanksgiving feast. And Tangle the basketball player had a big game against Jackson Academy.

“I played until halftime,” Tangle said. “Then I ran out and got in the car. I changed in the princess dress in the car, on the way to the event.”

Not every day was like that but there were times.

“It just depended on what was going on,” Tangle said. “I remember I missed half of the first day of school because I had to be at the Nanih Waiya Day celebrations. Things came up but it wasn’t too bad.”

An injury put her basketball year in doubt.

“A girl knocked me down while we were going for a loose ball and all of my weight came down on my knee,” Tangle said. “I played on but it continued to bother me so finally I went to the doctor.”

A MRI scan showed Tangle’s ACL had been torn in two. The doctor wanted to do surgery immediately.

“It was torn in two so there couldn’t be any more damage,” Tangle said. “I had played on it. The doctor understood this was my senior year so I kept playing with a knee brace. And we iced my knee after every game.”

Tangle and her teammates went on to win a state championship and made it to the finals of the Overall tournament. She will continue her career this fall after having signed to play at Southwest Community College.

There was a silver lining to the injury in that she may have found a new career calling. Tangle had the surgery done and went through the physical therapy to recover.

“I had always thought I would be a physical therapist,” Tangle said. “But after the surgery and working with my doctor, I think I will go into the medical field. I want to become a doctor and a surgeon.”

After Tangle finishes her studies at Southwest, she plans to complete her degree at Mississippi College as a pre-med student.