Miss Navajo Nation

by Erin Currier

web # 14527

Original Paintings

Acrylic and mixed media on panel

36"h x 24"w

1 Image(s)

Miss Navajo Nation (Naabeehó Bich’eekį’) is a pageant that has been held annually on the Navajo Nation, United States, since 1952. The first Miss Navajo was Dr. Beulah Melvin Allen, in 1952. Pageant contestants must be unmarried, over 18 years of age, be a high school graduate, and be able to speak the Navajo language. They compete in such activities as answering questions about traditional and modern Navajo customs both in Navajo and English, sheep butchering, bread baking, and performing a contemporary and Navajo cultural talent. Alyson Jeri Shirley, age 20, from Tolani Lake, Ariz. was crowned Miss Navajo Nation 2016, becoming the 69th titleholder. During her acceptance speech, Shirley thanked her maternal grandmother Lorraine Nebitsi Chee for helping her win the difficult, three-day competition. In the Miss Navajo Nation portrait, the subject holds peaches as a symbol of strength and resistance: the point of reference being the fabled peach orchard of Canyon de Chelly—an orchard of some three thousand centuries-old peach trees that had long been the pride of the Navajo Dine’. In 1864, Kit Carson and his men laid waste to that orchard. Despite all efforts by the US Government to break the spirit of the Dine’, as evidenced by Carson’s wantonly destructive and tragic act, their rich and longstanding ecological, cultural, and spiritual traditions remain strong—embodied in the youthful vitality and determination of Miss Navajo Nation. -Erin Currier

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