Guest Column: ‘I learned skills to create and tell my stories’
By McKeon K. Dempsey
Miss Navajo Nation 2014-15
Miss Navajo Nation is a role model for her people of all ages across the Navajo Nation. She embodies the teachings of her family, friends, and community so she may promote the Diné language, culture, and traditions throughout her reign.
It is a very important role to fill as she also is the representation of White Shell Woman and Changing Woman. Miss Navajo Nation holds her title for one year helping her people, while fulfilling her platform and promoting the Diné way of life.
“Yá’át’ééh altaal’áásiilg——, shik’é’ d—— shidiné’é, shihast—’, shizáanii. McKeon K. Dempsey dashijin’. çdoone’é ’g’’ é’ Kiiya’áanii Dine’é nishl’ d—— Tsédeeshgiizhnii Dine’é bash’shch’’n. çád—— Tód’ch’’i’nii Dine’é é’ dashicheii d—— Biih Bitoodnii Dine’é é’ dahshinál’. çkw—t’áo Diné asdzán’ nishl’.
“Hello, everyone, my family, and my relatives. My name is McKeon K. Dempsey. I am the Towering House Clan, born for the Rock Gap People Clan. My maternal grandfather’s clan is the Bitter Water Clan, and my paternal grandfather’s clan is the Deer Spring Clan.
“The youngest of four children with one older brother and two older sisters, I was raised by my loving mother, the late Marilyn J. Dempsey, and three aunts in Oak Springs, Ariz. I am also blessed to have the teachings of five uncles, also from Oak Springs. My late grandmother and grandfather are Katie and Roy Dempsey of Oak Springs. I am 24 years old.
“I graduated from Window Rock High School in 2008 and was then accepted into Santa Fe’s Institute of American Indian Arts where I earned my bachelor’s degree in 2012 in studio arts with a minor in art history.
“My mother and family were very supportive of my career choice and encouraged me to pursue my dreams. Through my experiences in college, I began to see art as a tool that when used in a positive way can change lives. I learned from my community and gained the skills to create, and tell my stories. During that time, I also thought about how I could give back to my community, and how I could introduce art to my community to build relations with people through their own experiences and stories.
“I believe strongly in the resiliency of the Diné language and its inherent teachings as well as the impact that art can have on culture. As the 2014-15 Miss Navajo Nation, I would like to use those teachings to engage the talents of our youth with the opportunity to express culture, language, and tradition through artistic outlets.
“I would like to contribute to the mental, physical, social, and emotional well-being of Naabeeh— Diné. My hope for the Navajo Nation in carrying out my platform is to continue seeking happiness and a healthy life, learning from one another.
“I plan to further my education after my full reign as Miss Navajo Nation and earn a master’s degree in art therapy. I plan to build a foundation for my long-term goal to advance the well-being and health of the Navajo Nation with an art therapy clinic for youth and veterans undergoing post-traumatic stress disorders.
“As Naabeeh— Diné, it is in our blood and clanship to live by what we create as beings. It is important for the future generation of Diné youth to speak their language proudly, and to use imagination to create and visualize accomplishments.
“I will contribute leadership and strength while promoting the importance of education. I will contribute my knowledge and experiences as a scholar of fine arts to motivate self-esteem, independence, and self-determination. I would like to expose more art into the community as a tool for healing, creation, and self-expressing. In my experience, art provides a skill that engages others in learning and teaching.
“I am humbled to be your Miss Navajo Nation 2014-15. I look forward to the many people I will meet throughout my journey. I will do the best I can to serve as your goodwill ambassador for the Navajo Nation. Ahéhee’.”
The Office of Miss Navajo Nation welcomes invites to events, schools, conferences, etc. Please note all invites need to be at least two to three weeks in advance.
Contact: Office of Miss Navajo Nation, P.O. Box 2860, Window Rock, AZ 86515. Phone: 928-871-6379; Fax: 928-871-6385. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Statement from McKeon K. Dempsey Miss Navajo Nation 2014-15