Column: Navajo woman wins Miss Indian contest
"A note of disclosure: This column is powered by fry bread, a fluffy, greasy, honeyed disk courtesy of the Platero Fry Bread stand at Indian Village. It is also powered by a warm cup of atole, courtesy of Miss Indian New Mexico contestant Stephanie Bowman, who whipped up the blue corn meal mush for her traditional skill competition and had the good sense to give some to the pageant's judges.

This is the life of a judge in the Miss Indian New Mexico contest, the competition that takes place at the New Mexico State Fair every year and culminates in the crowning of a young female Native American ambassador.

All day Friday, I and four other judges watched girls sing, braid hair, grind corn, demonstrate weaving and, yes, make tasty blue corn mush, as they vied to wear the gigantic silver crown that is Miss Indian New Mexico's and represent New Mexico's tribes over the coming year.

We graded them on poise, composure and enthusiasm as well as articulation, clarity and eye contact.

According to the rules, Miss Indian can be from any tribe in the United States as long as she lives here and is single, childless and between the ages of 18 and 24.

In the decades that have passed since the first Miss Indian New Mexico was crowned in 1964, Miss Indian winners have represented Isleta, Zuni, Santo Domingo, Acoma, Laguna, Okay Owingeh, Taos and Tesuque pueblos and the Mescalero and Jicarilla Apache tribes, But more often than not — in fact in 24 of the past 45 years — the winner has been a Navajo."

Get the Story:
Leslie Linthicum: Navajo Woman Crowned Miss Indian N.M. (The Albuquerque Journal 9/200

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