Miss Navajo Nation contest features 3 hopefuls
The Office of Miss Navajo Nation has chosen three contestants for the upcoming Miss Navajo Nation pageant – Valentina Clitso, Gypsy Pete and Breanna Davis.
The first Miss Navajo, Dr. Beulah Melvin Allen, was crowned in the early 1950s.
The previous recipient of this honor, Niagara Rockbridge, was crowned in 2021 and received a new crown. Due to the pandemic, she is serving two terms.
Every four years, when a new Miss Navajo is chosen, receives a new crown.
Rockbridge is passing her crown to the Diné woman who wins the Miss Navajo pageant this year.
Rockbridge is from Pinon, Arizona. She is Kiyaa’áanii, born for Hashk’aa Hadzohi. Her chei is Naakai Dine’é, and her nálí is Tó’áhani.
“I think for these young ladies, we’re giving them the best platform so they can provide their best skills and the best talents and really demonstrate who they are as a Diné women,” Rockbridge said.
“All we’re trying to do is give them the best platform to do so,” she said. “In terms of tips or anything of that nature is just to really be yourself.”
Contestant No. 1 is Valentina Clitso, 25, from Black Mesa, Arizona. She is To’dich’ii’nii, born for Bit’ahnii. Her chei is Tó’áhani and her nálí is Ásh??hi.
“This has always been like a dream of mine since I was little,” Clitso said. “I’ve always seen these ladies competing, but mostly, just being present and just showcasing what they’ve learned and who they are.
“That’s what I want to do as well,” she said, “just showcase who I am (and) where I’m from.”
Clitso is excited about the pageant’s butchering competition and has prepared for it since she was a little girl. She first butchered when she was four years old.
She expects the traditional food competition to be the most challenging.
“I just want to help preserve what I’ve known (and) what I’ve learned, and help share that with others, just share my knowledge,” Clitso said.
She also labels her uncle, Aaron Benally, and her grandmother, Mabel Benally, as figures in her life that motivate her.
Contestant No. 2 is Gypsy Pete, 25, from Rock Point, Arizona. She is Kin?ichii’nii, born for Deeshchii’nii. Her chei is Bit’ahnii and her nálí is Ma’ii deeshgiizhinii.
“For me, entering the pageant is an opportunity,” Pete said. “It’s really a platform for young Navajo women to address needs of the Navajo Nation.
“My platform is recognizing and understanding missing and murdered Indigenous women, men and children,” she said.
Pete is also excited about the butchering contest because she has been preparing for years.
She said the competition is a challenge within itself because the competitor is tested mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
“To me it’s the embodiment of the Navajo people,” she said. “It’s the representation of Changing Woman and White Shell Woman, representing who they are and their teachings that women are leaders (and) women can have a voice.”
Pete said a great Miss Navajo is a mother for the Navajo Nation.
She said women in her life inspire her because she was raised in a single-parent household. These women include her mother, Glenna Lee, her paternal grandmother, Jenna Harvey, and her maternal grandmother, Pauline Lee.
Contestant No. 3 is Breanna Davis, 22, from Many Farms, Arizona. She is Ma’ii deeshgiizhinii, born for T?ááshchí’í. Her chei is Tótsohnii and her nálí is Lók’aa’ Dine’é.
“I’m an education major so I really just want to go for it and go in there and get a learning experience,” Davis said.
“I’ve always been interested in the pageant and growing up and seeing the pageant as a little girl,” she said. “Seeing the number of contestants kind of decrease it made me want to just jump in there and take it as a learning experience.”
Davis also is excited about the butchering competition and the traditional food competition. Davis has been practicing for the butchering competition and recently butchered three sheep.
She expects the traditional interview to be the most challenging because she believes that her Navajo language needs work.
“It’s important to me to be a role model and an example, especially for our young women and young children,” she said. “I’m a teacher, I want to be a teacher and having this platform is a way to really show that you can still learn, you can do it, it’s not something to be afraid of.
“With social media nowadays, it’s really easy to fall into the shaming aspect,” she said. “So, I want with this platform to be able to show that you can learn and meet the traditional world with the modern world in a way that brings in all generations.”
Davis labels her mother, Tiffany Hardy, a figure in her life that motivates her.
These three women will compete for the title of Miss Navajo Nation in a week-long pageant that will be held from Sept. 4 to 11 during the 2022 Navajo Nation Fair.