Tribal member named Mrs. Oregon American
By Danielle Harrison
Smoke Signals assistant editor/staff writer
Tribal member Brittny Frederick says she never imagined being in the running for the Mrs. Oregon American title, let alone the national crown.
“I absolutely did not think I would be on the stage here,” she says. “I joined the pageant program to bring awareness to the opioid epidemic and to bring the community together.”
In July, the 33-year-old Beaverton resident was crowned Mrs. Oregon American at the state pageant in Salem. From there, it was a quick turnaround to the national pageant held in the Westgate Resort, Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Friday, Aug. 19.
“It was such an incredible experience,” she says. “I wasn’t nervous until I actually walked on stage in front of so many people.”
At the national pageant, Frederick competed with 46 women from across the United States in the categories of fitness, evening gown and an interview.
Frederick’s journey began in 2021 after a social media post about not letting trauma get in the way of letting your future unfold caught the eyes of the then-reigning 2020 Mrs. Oregon American, Salena Griffith, who contacted Frederick and asked if she’d ever considered doing pageants. During a 2021 Smoke Signals interview, after she’d been named Mrs. Washington County, Frederick reflected on that initial experience.
“I was like, ‘No way, I’m a mom, I’m married and is that even a thing for us?’ ”
With a husband, three children ages 11, 3 and 1, as well as a full-time job, Frederick wasn’t sure if she could also juggle pageant obligations at that time.
At the pageant, Frederick learned about Victoria’s Voice, an organization dedicated to keeping teenagers away from drug abuse. It was founded after a family lost their 18-year-old daughter, Victoria, to an opioid overdose. They believe that by Victoria’s death, thousands will be saved through their foundation that supports ways to reduce drug experimentation, addiction and overdoses.
“That really struck a chord with me,” Frederick says. “I didn’t realize it was that big of an aspect in the event and that there was so much community outreach. That’s when I decided to think about doing this. I wanted to get back to working with youth.”
As a teen and young adult growing up in Grand Ronde, she worked for the Tribe’s Youth Education Department and the Native Wellness Institute as a facilitator, educating other youth about healthy alternatives to using drugs and alcohol.
“Growing up in a small town, I saw drug overdoses a lot and it has also affected my own family,” Frederick says. “My overall plan was to do community outreach to make Oregon a healthier place, whether that means food boxes for families, having Narcan (an anti-overdose spray) available or helping cancer survivors.”
Frederick decided to apply for Mrs. Washington County, the first step to becoming Mrs. Oregon American. During that time, some events were canceled or scaled down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Frederick still had the opportunity to work with several nonprofits representing a number of causes, attended the St. Paul Rodeo, Hillsboro Rotary 4th of July Parade and the Spirit Mountain Community Fund’s 25th anniversary celebration in July.
The statewide pageant in July involved a panel interview, then a dance, fitness, evening gown and onstage question portion. When Frederick was named the 2022 winner, she was happy and surprised.
“I had no idea so many incredible women would be there,” she says. “I was pretty nervous about it, but kept my nerves at bay by having as much fun as possible.”
Mrs. America was established in 1976 to honor married women throughout the United States. Each contestant represents one of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, and participants range in age from their 20s to their 50s. Participants earn the right to participate in the national event by winning their state competition.
Frederick hasn’t served as Mrs. Oregon for long, but she’s excited about representing her Tribe at the state level for the next year. During the national competition in August, she wore her traditional regalia and enjoyed the opportunity to share information about what the Grand Ronde Tribe does for the people of Oregon.
Frederick’s Tribal roots come from her father, Dennis Linton, grandfather Thomas Linton and great-grandmother Geraldine “Toots” Mercier.
“I feel it is such an honor to represent my Tribe,” she says. “I feel so proud and happy, and I enjoy the opportunity to let people know we are still here. I’m very thankful.”