Sealaska Heritage Institute (SHI) named Alyssa London, Miss Alaska USA 2017, as a cultural ambassador in an effort to further its mission to perpetuate and enhance Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures and to promote cross-cultural understanding.
Alyssa inspired other people to be proud of their heritage and to consider incorporating their culture into their wardrobe choices. For her, it was more than a pageant evening gown performance. It was an opportunity to showcase the vitality of Native American and American Indian Culture today.
Alyssa was the first Alaskan woman to make the finalist cut at Miss USA since 1990 and the 5th woman ever from Alaska to place. This is a summary of her pageant appearances and journey in 2017.
Alyssa became a spokesperson for Tlingit culture while she was Miss Alaska USA. She took that role seriously, ultimately showcasing her roots by wearing an evening gown adorned with Tlingit formline art that looked like a ceremonial robe similar to the regalia of her people.
Alyssa is recognized for her thriving entrepreneurial spirit and mindset. She strives to encourage other women to look to entrepreneurship to achieve independence and self-sufficiency.
Alyssa is the first woman of Tlingit descent to be named Miss Alaska USA. She answered 5 questions prior to the Miss USA pageant for the Juneau Empire. In recounting her interview for the job of Miss USA, she said that when she answered where she sees herself in 10 years, she said she sees herself as having successfully grown her businesses, having a children's book encouraging kids to be proud of their multicultural identity, and being an international motivational speaker as well as hosting her own travel and culture show.
Alyssa had a hectic travel, speaking and preparation schedule leading up to Miss USA. Through it all, she maintained her priority of promoting the beauty of uniqueness of other cultures, particularly showcasing her Alaska Native and Native American culture and heritage.
Alyssa was announced as a semi-finalist at Miss USA by placing as a top ten finalist.
Alyssa's fans expressed pride in her representation of Alaska and her Tlingit community on the national stage. They had a watch party to support her and were supportive of her top ten finish at the competition. They stated that she gave Alaska Native and Native American women motivation to dream big and to go for them.
As a proud Tlingit, Alaska Native/ Native American woman, Alyssa wanted to use the moments she had on the Miss USA stage to show the world that she embraces and is proud of her culture and heritage. She worked with gown designer, Joey Galon, and Tlingit formline artist, Preston Singletary, to realize this goal. The traditional Tlingit rob style transformed into an elegant gown on stage and impressed audiences.
Alyssa belongs to a tribe from Southeast Alaska and is proud of her culture. This has caused her to be interested in cultures all over the world.
Photo of Alyssa competing in swimwear
The inspiration behind Miss Alaska Alyssa London's Miss USA gown was to feel the strength of her ancestors and community up on stage with her.
Alyssa is really grateful that she had the opportunity to be a semi-finalist at Miss USA because otherwise she wouldn't have been able to debut her gown on national television or speak Tlingit on national television. She feels it was meant to be for a larger purpose and reason.
Through Alyssa's motivational speaking, she talks about designing your career and your lifestyle through entrepreneurship. She helps women think about what they're actually passionate about and turn that into a business for themselves. She believes that if a person feels like they can be independent and self-sufficient with their finances, then that trickles down to having strong families and strong communities.
Alyssa saw the Miss Alaska and Miss USA pageant as platforms to make a difference, she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to a little part of her home community, and Indian Country.
One of Alyssa's favorite talks was at her young cousin's elementary school. In this talk, she discussed the importance of being proud of your culture and heritage and why pursuing your education is so important!
From answering questions about whether there is a Mr. USA for boys, to having a fun shoe comparison with little girls, Alyssa enjoys interacting with youth and encouraging their curiosity. She hopes she inspires them to be proud of their culture and heritage as well since she thinks it is pretty cool.
Alyssa is forever proud to be one of the only Miss Alaska USA finalists at Miss USA.