A Native 'American Idol' Winner? Aranesa Turner Has a Shot

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Are you listening, Indian country?

On Thursday night, 20-year-old Aranesa Turner was selected by the American Idol judges to receive a so-called "Golden Ticket" -- a trip to Hollywood to compete against other hopefuls on the long-running entertainment contest.

Aranesa is a member of the Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians. As she explained on Twitter, her mother was born and raised on the Big Valley Rancheria reservation, and her father is African American. She is believed to be the first Native American to be selected for the main competition of American Idol. Some previous contestants may have had some American Indian heritage, but none we're aware of have self-identified as Native. (Carrie Underwood, winner of the fourth season of the show, is from Checotah, Oklahoma, and is said to be partly Muscogee Creek, although she denied she is a "member" of any tribe in an interview with CMT last year.) Prior to embarking on her American Idol journey, Aranesa attended Northwest Indian College.

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