Gathering kicks off with 23 young women competing for the title of Miss Indian World
By Colleen Keane
Special to the Times
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.. April 25, 2014
Held in downtown Albuquerque's' Convention Center, hundreds of people from all over the world were mesmerized for more than three hours by the traditional talent and beauty of 23 contestants who are from Tribes across the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Lynnelle Henderson Washburn (Dineh) and Shae Ann Clah (Dineh) were among the contestants who were observed by a group of five esteemed judges on public speaking, personal interview, traditional presentation, dance and an essay.
Washburn demonstrated her knowledge of traditional plant remedies that she said she learned from her mother.
"There were so many things that were given to our Diné people through our Holy People. All of these things have to be in balance with one another. That is the number one thing with Diné teachings," she told the audience.
Sitting on stage beside her was grandmother, Flora Clah of Tohatchi and her niece, 9-year-old Naomi Rose Church, Clah described the significance, process and history of basket making and sang a song about traditional teachings that are instilled in the basket while it is being woven.
"We are taught as children to walk in beauty, respect our elders and cherish our traditions. I hope each one of you takes home this knowledge and may the creator bless each one of you so they can guide you safely home," she told the enraptured audience.
Clah said that she learned basket making made out of wool and the traditional song she sang from her grandmother.
Both contestants introduced themselves by clan in Navajo and spoke in Navajo and English throughout their presentations.
After the presentations concluded, "Albuquerque The Magazine" publisher Larryl Lynch, Diné, one of the judges, said that it was going to be a tough decision.
But, he added, "All of the girls are winners. They all bring so much amazing, power, culture and beauty to the Gathering."
The current Miss Indian World, Kansas Begaye, turns over her crown to the 2014-2015 Miss Indian World about 7 p.m. on Saturday night at the University of New Mexico's PIT in Albuquerque.
"All the young women in the pageant are unique, beautiful and strong in every way as they preserve their cultures," Begaye said as she watched the show last night.
"Every year, this is a classic event when these young women share their talent and culture," said Derek Mathews, founder of the Gathering of Nations.
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