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A Short Interview with Monique Brave

Wed Jun 07, 2006 4:30 am

When the unused CBS film from 1977 emerged onto the fan scene a decade or so ago, one of the unexpected elements was a backstage presentation that took place prior to Elvis’ concert at Rapid City, South Dakota on June 21, 1977. The mayor of the city was on hand to present Elvis with a plaque for being the first artist to perform in the new Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. (The mayor can’t have made much of an impression, since at the start of the show Elvis asked the audience “Somebody told me that it’s a new building or something, and I was the first person to perform here. Is that true?”)

But also making a presentation to Elvis on the occasion (and making much more of an impression) was young Monique Brave, who gave Elvis a Medallion of Life on behalf of the Sioux Nation. Elvis seemed quite taken with Monique saying how pretty she was, giving her a kiss on the cheek, asking one of his aides for a scarf to give her, and posing for two photos with Monique and her mother. (The poor mayor didn’t get a photo, a scarf or a kiss.)

Many who have seen the footage of the presentation have wondered about Monique, where she is today, what her memories are of the meeting, and how she felt when Elvis died only a few weeks later. Well, about six months ago I set out to locate Monique and did, in fact, manage to do so. We have communicated a handful of times since then via E-mail and I asked her a handful of questions, most of which were answered, if only briefly. Monique seems to be a person of few words; possibly she feels she doesn’t have much to tell. She certainly has a very full life and is very busy. On top of this she has recently had to change workplace and has had her youngest child hospitalised for a time. Despite all of this, we managed to compile a short Q&A session as shown below.

Monique, thank you for being willing to answer a few questions for us.

Firstly, is it safe to assume you have Sioux Native American heritage?
Yes I am an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.

Could you tell us a little about your life prior to 1977?
Well, I was 10 years old in 1977, so not too much going on as a 10-year-old. I was working at a fireworks stand in Yankton, SD with my Aunt Cathy when I heard that I was going to meet Elvis. At 10 years old I was more interested in selling fireworks than meeting Elvis.

How did you come to be selected to make the presentation to Elvis?
My Grandmother, Eva J. Nichols did it somehow. I really don’t know to this day how she did it. As I said before my grandmother, Eva J. Nichols set this all up. She has passed on now, bless her soul. She was a very respected Elder of the Rapid City Community and I still to this day don’t know how she ever pulled this off.

What do you remember of the day leading up to the meeting?
I was really nervous but excited.

Could you tell us something of the significance of the Medallion of Life?
It is a sacred gift.

What were your impressions of Elvis?
He was so handsome.

What other recollections do you have of the meeting?
He kissed me on the cheek and autographed a scarf for me. My mother did get to come in the room with me to meet Elvis. We also have a picture of the three of us as well as a picture of just me and Elvis. She was crying the whole time. She just couldn’t believe she was in the same room breathing the same air as the King.

Do you recall your feelings when hearing that Elvis had died so soon after your meeting?
I was so sad.

When did you first become aware that the film of your meeting with Elvis had surfaced?
About 4 years ago. I do have a copy of the VHS tape. I received it from a guy that wrote a book about Elvis and did an interview with me and my mother.

How has your life taken shape since the 1977 meeting?
I collect anything I can of Elvis for my mom. As for my mom, well she loves anything about Elvis. Her favorite song is Kentucky Rain.

Have you remained involved in the activities of the Sioux Nation?
I try to help Native people when I can.

What would you like to tell us about yourself today?
I am almost 40 years old and have 3 beautiful children.

Monique, thank you once again for chatting with us.

Wed Jun 07, 2006 4:33 am

A few points that follow on from the short interview above:

• One of the questions that weren’t answered was whether or not Monique and her mother were able to see the concert performance itself.

• I had hoped for a more in-depth explanation of the Medallion of Life. My guess is that it has a deeply spiritual meaning and since the spirit is stronger than the body, there is no irony in him dying six weeks after being given a Medallion of Life. In fact, it would be seen as a good thing that he was given the Medallion before he died. But that’s just my guess.

• I assume that the guy who interviewed Monique and her mother was Darrin Lee, who wrote a book (and/or E-book regarding Elvis in 1977). Does anyone have a copy?

• I have since given Monique a copy of the meeting on a DVD disc. When I heard that her Mom liked “Kentucky Rain”, I also sent an appropriate gift for her. It seemed to have been greatly appreciated.

I have given Monique this website address and she is aware the article is being posted. Whether she chooses to visit or interact with us is up to her. One final note in her own words:

Do you know anyone who would like to purchase my autographed scarf from me? I know there are still millions of fans out there. Thanks for everything. Monique.

Wed Jun 07, 2006 4:37 am

Very interesting.

Glad to know she's doing well and has fond memories of her meeting with Elvis. Thanks for posting this.

Wed Jun 07, 2006 4:43 am

yes i have darrin lee's book on the CBS special

Wed Jun 07, 2006 4:59 am

Okay, YDKM. I assume there's an interview in there with Monique and her Mom. Is it too lengthy to transcribe for us?

Wed Jun 07, 2006 5:29 am

Hey, that´s great!

O.S.

Wed Jun 07, 2006 7:21 am

ImageImage

Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:51 am

Very interesting! Thanks!

Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:41 am

Thank you for sharing

greetings

Wed Jun 07, 2006 10:05 am

Thanks for posting. I would expect her autographed scarf would be a very collectable item, worth $3000-4000 perhaps?

Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:27 pm

Thanks for that, dannyboy1. It was quite interesting to read her comments. That footage is priceless stuff, too. Very touching, and you could see that Elvis was genuinely moved by it.

I would bet that the scarf would sell nicely, given its history and how she came to own it. I'm a little saddened, though, that she's selling it. But, of course, that is her prerogative.

Wed Jun 07, 2006 3:44 pm

Thanks for posting this!

Thu Jun 08, 2006 2:55 am

Delboy, I'm always too poor to be able to collect such items, so I wouldn't really know the value. :smt022 A lot would depend on whether the scarf is one with the standard printed signature, or an actual genuine Elvis signature.

The scarf framed along with copies of the two photos, a signed statement from Monique and a copy of the footage on disc, presented all together as a package would be pretty cool!!!

Fri Jun 09, 2006 11:44 am

That was so nice to hear from her!

Was the autographed scarf actually signed by Elvis or was it one of the pre-printed ones?

JEFF d
EP fan

Fri Jun 09, 2006 12:25 pm

Short, but sweet. Thank you for posting this.

Fri Jun 09, 2006 1:22 pm

Thanks for posting this dannyboy1.

Fri Jun 09, 2006 1:23 pm

Very interresting and touching. Thanks for posting. Elvis really had all of his charisma left in 1977. "He was so handsome", she said and we all know that he didn´t look his best. But Elvis really seemed to care about this meeting and probably left her with very positive vibes.

Regards//Björn

Sat Jun 10, 2006 9:09 am

A woman of few words indeed!!!!! :lol:

Thanks so much for posting this.......great detective work!!!

Sat Jun 10, 2006 9:13 am

Very touching interview, thanks for posting.

Sat Jun 10, 2006 1:29 pm

Interesting, thank you.

Sat Jun 10, 2006 2:08 pm

Very interesting, thank you for posting it.

Quite sad she is thinking of selling the scarf though, considering the story behind it. Of course it's up to her what she does with it. I would think Graceland would be interested, as it has a great story behind it.

Sat Jun 10, 2006 4:24 pm

DJC: Interesting? Yes. "Sweet"? No.

The girl was obviously pushed by her parents. She doesn't seem to understand why a few geeks on the interent find her meeting with Elvis so interesting. The fact that she tries to sell off her scarf seems not to support the theory of a "sweet" memory either.

Sat Jun 10, 2006 6:38 pm

Thomas wrote:The fact that she tries to sell off her scarf seems not to support the theory of a "sweet" memory either.


Well, we don't know the reason why she is looking to sell it. She doesn't necessarily want to.

Sun Jun 11, 2006 3:04 am

thefunkyangel wrote:ImageImage


Do you have both pictures in better quality - especially the second one? The first seems to be a shot from the wellknown outtake video, is that right?

Joern

Wed Jun 14, 2006 3:45 am

Jeff d - not having seen the scarf myself, I don't really know whether it's a pre-printed one or an original signature.

Thomas - I think you need to lighten up. Don't judge her so harshly. You don't know what difficulties she may be facing. From what little I know, I think we need to show compassion in this case.