Window Rock, Ariz.– Ya’at’eeh shi kei doo shi dine’e! My name is Karletta Chief and I am Miss Navajo Nation 2000-2001. I am Bitter Water (Todichiinii) and born for Near-the-Water People (To’ahani).
My maternal grandfather is Many Goats (Klizilani) and my paternal grandfather is Red Running into the Water (Tachiinii). This is how I identify myself as a young Navajo woman. I have 5 siblings of which I am the 4th child (2 older sisters, 1 older brother, and 2 younger sisters). I am originally from Black Mesa, Arizona but currently reside in Cedar Ridge, Arizona. My mother is Lillian Tallman Chief and my father is Paul Chief from Black Mesa, Arizona. My maternal grandparents are Ben and Hazel Delmar Tallman and my paternal grandparents are Nephi and Lillie Chief. Currently, I am 25 years old.
My hobbies include playing the piano, violin, and guitar, running, hiking, kickboxing and step aerobics, sashbelt weaving, reading and writing in Navajo, taking photos, meeting people, and making friends. I spend most of my time with my family, and I enjoy talking with my grandmother, participating in church activities, and looking at the stars at night.
After graduating from Page High School in 1994, I attended school at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. I graduated in 1998 with a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and was accepted into Stanford’s Environmental Engineering and Science Ph.D. program. In March 2000 I received my master’s degree. After 6 years of going to college non-stop I decided to take a break from my Ph.D. program and return home.
With the encouragement of my parents, I was able to pursue higher education despite challenging circumstances. I grew up in a home with no electricity, no running water, and little money but with Navajo as my first language. My parents’ teaching taught me to pray daily, work hard, appreciate life, respect others, and take pride in my culture. Therefore, I believe in the great potential of the Navajo youth to be the successful leaders, today and tomorrow. Your goals can be achieved through hard work and determination.
For many years, my family experienced the environmental degradation by local mining for the sake of energy needs of metropolitan areas.
This background created my passion to study environmental engineering, and in preserving and healing the environment. I want to use my education not only help my family but to contribute back to my people. I believe that an individual can find their passion that will fuel their determination to excel in life.
I am very honored to represent my Navajo people as their Goodwill Ambassador. This year opened many opportunities to serve my people from educating elders about diabetes to encouraging the youth to reach for their goals. As Miss Navajo Nation, I promoted communication and learning between the elders and the youth because I believe that the elders are the key to our culture and language. We, as Navajo youth, must take the opportunity to learn all that we can from our elders. As our knowledge of our history, culture, and language increases, we begin to appreciate and take pride in being Dine'.
As Miss Navajo Nation, my goal is to promote the preservation of culture and language. Despite the “melting pot” that exists in this world today, our Navajo culture continues to be rich and diverse in its own nation. Our culture is alive and present, from shimasanii’s earth hogan and the pounding sounds of her weaving tool expertly designing a beautiful rug, to the familiar smells of frybread, potatoes-n-spam, and fresh coffee in the early morning. Furthermore, our Navajo language is melodic and very beautiful. Many tribes have long since lost their language but our people have preserved it thus far. Our Navajo language and culture defines us individually as Dine' and collectively as a sovereign nation. A Dine' who understands and appreciates our language and culture will always take the opportunity to celebrate and learn more about themselves as defined by our history, culture, and language.
I believe through its appreciation and celebration, our Navajo Nation will continue to have a rich culture and language well into the 21st century.
Nihi Dine’e have many important teachings, which are universal amongst our Navajo Nation. Despite subtle culture and language differences, which exist from region to region, our grandparents teach the same Navajo values. Since I was young child, my grandparents and parents have instilled in me the importance of living a good life. “Ada’a’hool’ya, shi awe.”
With these few and simple words, one interprets the caring words to say, “Take care of yourself, my child. Be cautious of the bad that may confront you in life. Remember what we have taught you, the importance of walking in beauty, and making the right decision.”