Mardella Sunshine Costanzo was crowned Miss Indian North Carolina 2009-10 on March 6, at the 34th Annual North Carolina Indian Unity Conference held in Raleigh.
Costanzo, a junior at UNC Pembroke majoring in American Indian Studies, is a member of the Lumbee Tribe. In her role as Miss Indian North Carolina, she will represent the 100,000 Native American people of the state.
North Carolina’s native population includes eight state-recognized tribes: Lumbee, Haliwa-Saponi, Meherrin, Coharie, Waccamaw-Siouan, Eastern Band of Cherokee, Occaneechi Band of Saponi and Sappony.
Costanzo will also represent the four urban Indian organizations: Cumberland County Association for Indian People, Guilford Native American Association, Metrolina Native American Association and Triangle Native American Association.
The Miss Indian N.C. title is sponsored by the United Tribes of N.C., Inc. During her reign, Costanzo will be promoting her platform, “Giving Back: Strengthening our Native Communities through Community Service.”
In November 2008, her volunteer work at the University and the community was recognized when she was named recipient of the annual North Carolina Campus Compact Community Impact Student Award.
Costanzo currently serves as the president of the Native American Student Organization (NASO) at UNCP and is also the chairperson for the annual UNCP Spring UNITY Powwow held each April here on campus.
She serves on the planning committee for the American Indian Women of Proud Nations Conference and is a volunteer with the Lumbee Tribe of NC Boys & Girls Clubs. She is a work study student in the Native American Resource Center.