Native American royalty promote culture at leadership conference

Miss Navajo Nation Jocelyn Billy (at right) stands with other members of Hopi and Navajo tribal royalty at the Native American Youth Leadership Conference held at the ASU-West in Glendale on Oct. 19.

Miss Navajo Nation Jocelyn Billy (at right) stands with other members of Hopi and Navajo tribal royalty at the Native American Youth Leadership Conference held at the ASU-West in Glendale on Oct. 19.

GLENDALE - Miss Navajo Nation Jocelyn Billy believes that language should not be misused.

"Every word you speak will become you. You plant these words in your heart and they come out in actions. Don't play with words or thoughts (in a bad way) because they can manifest," she said.

Billy spoke about the importance of language and education while giving a motivational speech at the opening ceremony for the Native American youth leadership conference Oct. 19 at Arizona State University-West.

About 400 high school and junior high school students attended the conference. The other royalty addressing the youth included Miss Hopi Tiffany Bahnimptewa, Miss Hopi First Attendant Carolee Honanie, Miss Indian Arizona First Attendant Juanita White, Miss Central Navajo Latoyia Largo and Miss Indian ASU Kim Serna.

Billy, a 24-year-old from Chinle, earned her BA in political science from Northern Arizona University.

Now, she is studying for the law school entrance test with hopes of becoming a lawyer.

That is one of her goals now, but her previous goals were to become Miss Navajo Nation and to own a car.

"You set goals and you start to believe it," she said. "You have to start every day with a prayer and a purpose. It's so easy to get lost today."

Billy said it's easy for youth to get lost today because of MTV and reality shows.

"But that's not your reality," she said. "If you fail it's because you choose to fail. People are always blaming others, but if you point at someone else three fingers are pointing right back at you."

Billy, who graduated as valedictorian of Chinle High School in 2000, told the students that they need to have a passion and follow it. She said many students are lost and don't have opportunities so students should take opportunities when they get them.

She said Native American students have opportunities as Peterson Zah is at ASU and Lawrence Gishey is at NAU to help them with learning about the college life.

"Take the opportunities you have to be self-motivating. You have to be able to say no when friends ask you to go out and you have to do your homework," she said.

Billy said students have to remember that they are doing their homework either for themselves, their parents, their community or so they can make more money in the future.

"Remember you're there for a purpose. If not, then you should come home until you smarten up," she said.

Billy continues to set goals as she wants a family, a good job and a nice house

"Set goals even if they are years away. Getting an education will make a difference and give you credibility," she said.

Billy said she recently visited Chinle Junior High where students were selling acid papers. The papers had superheroes on them to entice the young teens into taking them. She is also concerned about meth on the reservations.

"We have lost so many children to meth," she said.

Billy said every tribe has a story of suffering from its ancestors.

"Why aren't we honoring them (the ancestors) by speaking our language and practicing our culture? We have so much greed and so many social ills. We need a communal effort to address the problems," she said.

Billy said Native Americans have suffered just like other people as she pointed to the Irish who were exiled from their own country and the Jewish people who were oppressed by Hitler.

Miss Hopi Tiffany Bahnimptewa said she is working on underage alcohol prevention. She praised Hopi High School's Protecting You, Protecting Me program, which has high school students working with elementary school students on drug and alcohol prevention.

Miss Hopi First Attendant Carolee Honanie said Hopi is losing its language and she wants to GLENDALE - Miss Navajo Nation Jocelyn Billy believes that language should not be misused.

"Every word you speak will become you. You plant these words in your heart and they come out in actions. Don't play with words or thoughts (in a bad way) because they can manifest," she said.

Billy spoke about the importance of language and education while giving a motivational speech at the opening ceremony for the Native American youth leadership conference Oct. 19 at Arizona State University-West.

About 400 high school and junior high school students attended the conference. The other royalty addressing the youth included Miss Hopi Tiffany Bahnimptewa, Miss Hopi First Attendant Carolee Honanie, Miss Indian Arizona First Attendant Juanita White, Miss Central Navajo Latoyia Largo and Miss Indian ASU Kim Serna.

Billy, a 24-year-old from Chinle, earned her BA in political science from Northern Arizona University.

Now, she is studying for the law school entrance test with hopes of becoming a lawyer.

That is one of her goals now, but her previous goals were to become Miss Navajo Nation and to own a car.

"You set goals and you start to believe it," she said. "You have to start every day with a prayer and a purpose. It's so easy to get lost today."

Billy said it's easy for youth to get lost today because of MTV and reality shows.

"But that's not your reality," she said. "If you fail it's because you choose to fail. People are always blaming others, but if you point at someone else three fingers are pointing right back at you."

Billy, who graduated as valedictorian of Chinle High School in 2000, told the students that they need to have a passion and follow it. She said many students are lost and don't have opportunities so students should take opportunities when they get them.

She said Native American students have opportunities as Peterson Zah is at ASU and Lawrence Gishey is at NAU to help them with learning about the college life.

"Take the opportunities you have to be self-motivating. You have to be able to say no when friends ask you to go out and you have to do your homework," she said.

Billy said students have to remember that they are doing their homework either for themselves, their parents, their community or so they can make more money in the future.

"Remember you're there for a purpose. If not, then you should come home until you smarten up," she said.

Billy continues to set goals as she wants a family, a good job and a nice house

"Set goals even if they are years away. Getting an education will make a difference and give you credibility," she said.

Billy said she recently visited Chinle Junior High where students were selling acid papers. The papers had superheroes on them to entice the young teens into taking them. She is also concerned about meth on the reservations.

"We have lost so many children to meth," she said.

Billy said every tribe has a story of suffering from its ancestors.

"Why aren't we honoring them (the ancestors) by speaking our language and practicing our culture? We have so much greed and so many social ills. We need a communal effort to address the problems," she said.

Billy said Native Americans have suffered just like other people as she pointed to the Irish who were exiled from their own country and the Jewish people who were oppressed by Hitler.

Miss Hopi Tiffany Bahnimptewa said she is working on underage alcohol prevention. She praised Hopi High School's Protecting You, Protecting Me program, which has high school students working with elementary school students on drug and alcohol prevention.

Miss Hopi First Attendant Carolee Honanie said Hopi is losing its language and she wants to help protect that.

"I've been talking to tribal leaders about what culture means to them," she said.

Miss Indian Arizona First Attendant Juanita White, who is Hopi, said people still stereotype that Native Americans live in teepees and that they are dumb.

"We are smarter than that," she said.

White said Indian royalty titles are important because the royalty have promoted their cultures.

"Without these titles we would have lost more of our culture," she said.

White also urged the students to not just celebrate their own culture.

"If you just stick to your own tribes, then we all fail," she said. "Learn about your neighbors culture and respect it. Look at the similarities and not the differences. We're different tribes, but we're the same roots. Like the rivers and the oceans. We all connect. It's just like that."

White said she was the first member of a Pueblo tribe to run for Miss Indian World since 1987. Even though she didn't win, she was glad because now more members of the pueblo tribes are thinking about doing it.

Comments

Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comment submissions may not exceed a 200 word limit, and in order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit excessive comment entries.

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.