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HISTORY OF

MISS NAVAJO NATION

Every year during the Navajo Nation Fair, hundreds of spectators would travel to watch the prestigious Miss Navajo Nation Pageant, listen to it on KTNN AM 660 or watch a previously recorded telecast by Navajo Nation Broadcast Services. Many talented, articulate and passionate ladies from across the Navajo Nation compete in the pageant in hopes of becoming the new Miss Navajo Nation. This competition has proven to represent the beauty of our culture, language and tradition. In addition, Navajo elders, community members and children leave with a refreshing sense of Navajo pride. For over half a century, Miss Navajo Nation has provided a leader, a role model and an advocate for culture and language

Miss Navajo began in 1952 with the first Miss Navajo, Beulah Melvin Allen, M.D. According to Dr. Allen, the selection of Miss Navajo was quite simple back then. Contestants vying for the title would stand in front of an audience of approximately 10, 000 people. The young lady who received the loudest applause would be crowned “Miss Navajo.” During this early period, there was also a selection of “Miss Navajo” and “Miss Modern Navajo.” Miss Navajo would represent the traditional Navajo way of life while Miss Modern Navajo would represent the modern way of life. The two ladies would represent bridging of traditional and modern worlds and the importance of obtaining education and technology to further progress of our nation.

Today, the Miss Navajo Nation Pageant replaces the “Applause Competition.” The four-day competition involves both the Navajo and modern way of life in the Traditional and Contemporary Skills and Talent Competitions. In 1996, the traditional sheep butchering contest was incorporated to demonstrate a young lady’s knowledge of preparing traditional foods. The most important qualification for the Miss Navajo Nation Pageant is to be fluent in the Navajo and English languages. The contestants must fill the requirements of having knowledge of the Navajo culture and tradition. Unlike most beauty pageants throughout the world, the Miss Navajo Nation Pageant is of beauty “within” one’s self.

The grace, pride and teachings of mothers and grandmothers of the Navajo people blossoms and manifest themselves through these fine young ladies. After arduous preparations and completing the competition, a young lady is selected to reign for one year. It has become highly publicized and celebrated by people of all ages. The benefits and honors derived from the title are tremendous and it is indeed an honor to be the titleholder.

During this time, they address several issues to assist in the reinforcement of a positive attitude and self-empowerment among our people. Usually their platforms and projects of choice are what they are passionate about and/or are of expertise. Each continues to grow in teachings given by elders in hopes they share the knowledge with the people. During the year, Miss Navajo Nation visits countless elderly homes and centers sharing, learning and revitalizing our Navajo Philosophy in partnership with elders. They have the pleasure of motivating Navajo youth to work toward accomplishing their goals and strengthen youth programs. This is achieved by the numerous school visits, coordinated projects of Miss Navajo Nation’s choice and partnership developed to reinforce Navajo Nation program’s initiatives with Miss Navajo Nation’s help.

For over fifty years, the young ladies selected as the Goodwill Ambassadors of the Navajo Nation have successfully accomplished many goals, which include establishing relationships between various nations and providing a positive role model for young people everywhere. Throughout the years, Miss Navajo Nation has represented both symbolic and real-life efforts and will continue to do son in the 21st Century.

Dr. Beulah Melvin Allen became the first Miss Navajo at the Navajo Nation Fair in 1952. The Miss Navajo was selected by crowd applause before evolving into the competition and pageant we know today. There have been many changes to the Miss Navajo Nation title since its birth. For example, Miss Navajo 1954 - 1956, 1957-1958 Charlotte Lawrence Greenstone was the only woman to hold the title for three terms.

Title holders can now only serve one term but, as Sunny Dooley remarked in the PBS documentary “Miss Navajo,” once you’re Miss Navajo, you’re always Miss Navajo. After Charlotte Lawrence, the pageant introduced dual crowns with Miss Traditional Navajo and Miss Modern Navajo to represent the two worlds women must walk in modern society. This changed back into the singular Miss Navajo title with the 1963-1964 Miss Navajo Anna Mae Begay Fowler.

In 2010, Winifred Bessie Jumbo was introduced as the first Miss Navajo Nation with the new title name. The name was changed to represent the position Miss Navajo Nation represents in the tribal governance system.

Miss Navajo Nation has the ability to introduce new and exciting changes to the competition or reign. Recently, Miss Navajo Nation 2016-2017 Ronda Joe caused a stir when she removed fry bread making as a competition category and replaced it with traditional foods. Miss Navajo Nation 2012-2013 introduced a special edition Miss Navajo Nation Pendleton shawl that has continued today to honor both the title holder’s reign and the continued legacy of Miss Navajo Nation and the female deities she embodies.

Past title holders include a diverse range of successful women from a Grammy-nominated singer to several woman with doctoral degrees. As each year passes by, Miss Navajo Nation remains a consistent presence that endures administration change and the changing of time. Each Miss Navajo Nation bears gifts and talents she shares with her people and inspires young girls across the great Nation to showcase pride, confidence, and beauty.

There are many stories of young girls seeing Miss Navajo Nation riding a horse on a parade route or seeing her speak at an event and wanting to become Miss Navajo Nation themselves. It is a unique and beautiful cycle on the path to self-determination for the Navajo people.

Miss Navajo 1960-1961

Miss Traditional Navajo: Bernice Skeet

Miss Modern Navajo: Roseanne Kellywood Bahe

Miss Navajo 1961-1962

Miss Traditional Navajo: Lois Haskie Kansaswood

Miss Modern Navajo: Dr. Alyse Neundrof

Miss Navajo 1962-1963

Miss Traditional Navajo: Emma Joe

Miss Modern Navajo: Rowena Yazzie McCabe

Miss Navajo 1963-1964

Anna Mae Begay-Fowler​

Navajo Nation

 

 

 

Miss Navajo 1964-1965

Sally Ann Zah Joe​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1965-1966

Carol Ann Yazzie Showalter​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1966-1967

Sarah Ann Johnson​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1967-1968

Thelma Pablo Francisco

Navajo Nation

 

 

Miss Navajo 1968-1969

Rose McCabe Wauneka​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1969-1970

Rose Ann Bekis Kenneth​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1970-1971

Linda Hanove Schweigman

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1971-1972

Genevieve Lee Salt​

Navajo Nation

 

 

Miss Navajo 1972-1973

Janet Yazzie Caller​

Chichiltah, NM

Miss Navajo 1973-1974

Delphine Curley Ludlum​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1974-1975

Gilene Begay

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1975-1976

Angela Barney Nez​

Tohatchi, NM

 

 

Miss Navajo 1976-1977

Rosita Tsosie Holiday

Kayenta, AZ

Miss Navajo 1977-1978

Marilyn Help Hood​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1978-1979

Bobby Bia​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1979-1980

Freda J. Nells

Shiprock, NM

 

 

Miss Navajo 1980-1981

Sandra Eriacho​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1981-1982

Dolly Manson

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1982-1983

Sunny Dooley

Chichiltah, NM

Miss Navajo 1983-1984

Shirley Paulson​

Navajo Nation

 

 

Miss Navajo 1984-1985

Lorene Lewis

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1985-1986

Audra Arviso

Iyanbito, NM

Miss Navajo 1986-1987

Diane Taylor​

Navajo Nation

Miss Navajo 1987-1988

Wena Jesus​-Nez

Sawmill, AZ

 

 

Miss Navajo 1988-1989

Sophina Shorty Brown

Chinle, AZ

Miss Navajo 1989-1990

Geraldine Gamble

Kinlichee, AZ

Miss Navajo 1990-1991

Jennifer Jackson - Wheeler

Many Farms, AZ

Miss Navajo 1991-1992

Sharon Watson Murray

Chinle, AZ

 

 

Miss Navajo 1992-1993

Tina James-Tafoya​

Wheatfields, AZ​

Miss Navajo 1993-1994

Tara Tsosie​

Wheatfields, AZ​

Miss Navajo 1994-1995

Karen Leuppe

Kinlichee, AZ

Miss Navajo 1995-1996

Audra J. Etsitty Platero​

Many Farms, AZ​

 

 

Miss Navajo 1996-1997

Josephine Tracey​

Fish Point, AZ

Miss Navajo 1997-1998

Radmilla Cody

Grand Falls, AZ​

Miss Navajo 1998-1999

Sevaleah Begay​-Tsosie

Round Rock, AZ​

Miss Navajo 1999-2000

Victoria Yazzie​

Kayenta, AZ​

 

 

Miss Navajo 2000-2001

Karletta Chief

Black Mesa, AZ

Miss Navajo 2001-2002

Jolyana Begay

Fort Defiance, AZ

Miss Navajo 2002-2003

Shaunda Mae Tsosie

Chinle, AZ

Miss Navajo 2003-2004

Marla Billey

Sanostee, NM

 

 

Miss Navajo 2004-2005

Jannalee Atcitty

Cedar Ridge, AZ

Miss Navajo 2005-2006

Rachelle James

Chinle, AZ

Miss Navajo 2006-2007

Jocelyn Billy

Chinle, AZ​

Miss Navajo 2007-2008

Jonathea Tso

Cove, AZ

 

 

Miss Navajo 2008-2009

Yolanda Charley

Chichiltah, NM

Miss Navajo 2009-2010

Tashina Nelson

Round Rock, AZ

Miss Navajo Nation 2010-2011

Winifred Bessie Jumbo

Two Grey Hills, NM

Miss Navajo Nation 2011-2012

Crystalyne Curley

Fish Point, AZ

 

 

Miss Navajo Nation 2012-2013

Leandra Thomas

Steamboat Canyon, AZ

Miss Navajo Nation 2013-2014

Natasha Hardy

Hunters Point, AZ

Miss Navajo Nation 2014-2015

McKeon Kova Dempsey

Oak Springs, AZ

Miss Navajo Nation 2015-2016

Alyson Jeri Shirley

Tolani Lake, AZ

 

 

Miss Navajo Nation 2016-2017

Ronda Joe

Rock Point, AZ

Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018

Crystal Littleben

Round Rock, AZ

Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019

Autumn Montoya

Na’neelzhiin, New Mexico

Miss Navajo Nation 2019-2020

Current

Shaandiin Parrish

Kayenta, Az

 

 

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