Miss Navajo Nation Titleholders Fundraising Gala to take place during this year's Navajo Nation Fair

Celebrate 60 years of Miss Navajo

Pictured are (front) Chester Nez, last of the original 29 Code Talkers, Honoree for HeroTwins 2012, and Malorie McKerry, Student Helper, (back) Vivian Arviso, Miss Modern Navajo 1958-59; Shirley Paulson, Miss Navajo 1983-84; and Geraldine Gamble, Miss Navajo 1989-90. Submitted photo

Pictured are (front) Chester Nez, last of the original 29 Code Talkers, Honoree for HeroTwins 2012, and Malorie McKerry, Student Helper, (back) Vivian Arviso, Miss Modern Navajo 1958-59; Shirley Paulson, Miss Navajo 1983-84; and Geraldine Gamble, Miss Navajo 1989-90. Submitted photo

TSE BONITO, N.M. - On Sept. 7 a fundraising gala for the 60th anniversary of the titleholders of Miss Navajo Nation is being hosted by the Miss Navajo Council, Inc., a non-profit organization, of past Miss Navajos with sponsorship from the Navajo Nation Division of Transportation (NNDOT).

This silent auction and banquet will begin at 6 p.m. at the Senator John Pinto Conference Center in the NNDOT Building No. 16 on Old Coalmine Road in Tse Bonito, N.M. during this year's Navajo Nation Fair. This year marks the 60th anniversary of an outstanding Navajo woman being selected to be Miss Navajo, an event that has been celebrated in conjunction with each Tribal Fair since 1952.

In early days, the decision for picking a Miss Navajo was done by those in the grandstand giving the loudest applause for their choice as picked out of a line of young women. Since then, the selection of Miss Navajo has evolved into a multi-day production involving judges selecting women not just on their appearance alone but on their Navajo language, culture, talents and skills. Those chosen to carry the crown of Miss Navajo are an official representative and ambassador of the Navajo Nation.

Dr. Beulah Allen, the first Miss Navajo (1952-53), will be a guest speaker at the gala with a full program of activities through contributing supporters and sponsors that include the Salt River Project, Navajo Oil and Gas, NTUA, and the Office of the First Lady.

The Miss Navajo Council, Inc. is a non-profit organization established for and by former Miss Navajos with the purpose of promoting the preservation of Navajo culture, language, and tradition. Proceeds from this fundraising gala will support their annual events for Navajo youth at the Hero Twins and White Shell Woman workshops and allow for development of other youth and community-oriented activities.

"We started our organization back in 2004, and then we started our workshops in 2007," said Sarah Luther, president of the Miss Navajo Council, Inc. "They are all day events and our primary focus is the cultural teachings of our people. Stressing language, the culture and the traditional aspects of the Navajo person."

According to Luther, she and her fellow Miss Navajo Council members are trying to have the young people connect with their identities so they can become mature, well rounded, responsible and outstanding citizens when they become adults.

"We incorporate teachings such as: how to prepare for college, taking care of the environment, using the Native philosophy as well as modern concepts and mixing them together and how to use both in conjunction with one another," Luther said. "For example, we have a math teacher who uses his Navajo philosophy to teach math so students can have more interest in the educational side of their lives. We also teach them proper nutrition, how to take care of their health, and how to prepare nutritious meals for themselves and their families."

Luther said the workshops started with about 35 attendees, all girls, and by year three they outgrew their capacity. More and more boys were also being enrolled so they eventually had to split up the workshops into how they are held today, the Hero Twins workshop for boys and the White Shell Woman workshops for girls. Luther added the workshops were then moved to winter months to include their winter stories and teachings.

"We were all Miss Navajos for only a year, but most of us are mothers and grandmothers now, as well as teachers and caregivers," said Luther. "This is our way of giving back to our people."

In addition, Luther spoke about who the instructors are at these workshops and all the individuals who help donate their time and energy to helping in their vision and their cause.

"Most teachers are former Miss Navajos, but within the last couple years other educators, instructors and those with unique backgrounds to help us have volunteered their time as well," she said.

The Hero Twins workshop is Feb. 2, 2013 and the White Shell Woman workshop is March 23, 2013 at San Juan College in Farmington, N.M. from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Tickets for the Miss Navajo Nation Titleholders Fundraising Gala are $60 per person and can be obtained at the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise in Window Rock, Ariz. or from Geri Gamble at (928) 209-5993. Tickets or additional information can also be obtained from Gala Coordinator Jennifer Jackson Wheeler via telephone at (480) 289-8546 or email at Jennifer_Wheeler@hotmail.com.

To register for the Hero Twins and White Shell Woman workshops or obtain more information about the gala visit www.missnavajocouncil.org.

The Miss Navajo Council looks forward to having you join them for a memorable evening at the 60th anniversary of Miss Navajo Nation titleholders. Purchase your ticket and spend an evening with former Miss Navajo Nation titleholders from 1952-present as they celebrate 60 years.

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