Since debuting with the first season in 2009, 166 drag queens have entered the werkroom and competed for the crown and title of “America’s Next Drag Superstar” on thirteen seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Many races and ethnicities have been well represented by a variety of queens that have walked the Main Stage.
However, in honor of Native American Heritage Month, we are taking the time to highlight some of the amazing Native and Indigenous queens featured on the cult drag competition show. Both on and off the runway, these queens are promoting inclusivity and diversity as well as shedding light on important conversations and topics relating to the community.
These fierce queens have undoubtedly inspired others to take a chance and showcase their talent. We can’t wait to see more native and Indigenous queens sashay onto the runway and snatch the coveted crown.
Ilona Verly brought a lot to the first season on Canada’s Drag Race, but the most being representation for Indigenous, Two-Spirit queens. The 25-year-old, who is Nlaka'pamux, made history as the first Indigenous Two-Spirit queen to compete on the reality series.
Last year, Verly unveiled a look to help raise awareness about missing and murdered indigenous women. She collaborated on combined aspects of jingle & fancy, two prominent First Nations female dance categories.
In the photo’s caption, she said she “ wanted this look to really pull from multiple aspects of the First Nations woman.”
Not only did this queen achieve popularity for her run on ‘Drag Race’ but also after appearing on various tv shows, including CSI, Will and Grace, and Lucifer.
In a 2015 interview, Mantle explains their gender-fluid identity and heritage, “I’m from a heritage of Cherokee tribe, which is based in Oklahoma. There’s a Native American term that many have used, it’s called two-spirited, and it’s someone who possesses both genders. It’s someone who lives and travels and journeys between all the spectrums of male and female.”
Season 11 queen, Shuga Cain truly made an impact during her run on RuPaul’s Drag Race and fans were gutted when they learned the fan-favorite was eliminated.
During her season’s “Fringe Runway” challenge, Cain put together a look that honored both her Native American and Latino heritage.
Cain's father is from El Salvador and her mother is Spanish and Native American from New Mexico. Her roots come from the Apache tribe.
Stacy Layne Matthews
This trans drag queen was most known on Drag Race season 3 for her spot-on Monique impression. However, some are surprised to learn that she has Indigenous roots too.
Matthews is a part of the Lumbee tribe and was the first-ever Indigenous queen to debut on RuPaul’s Drag Race. You could say Stacy paved the way for more tribal queens to follow.