On Saturday, June 11, the 23rd Annual Miss Salt River Pageant took place at the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Building. Two contestants, Devanie Duwyenie, 17, and Martha Ludlow-Martinez, 20, competed for the Miss Salt River crown.
The Miss Salt River pageant contestants competed in the areas of modern talent presentation, evening wear, essay, traditional talent presentation and an impromptu question.
Duwyenie performed an inspired Michael Jackson dance for her modern talent, which she dedicated to her little brother, who helped her come up with the routine. Ludlow-Martinez’s storytelling skills paid off during her traditional talent performance; she received the Dorothy Lewis Traditional Talent Award.
The contestants also wrote an essay on the pageant’s theme, “O’odham/Piipaash: Cherishing Our Past, Inspiring Our Tomorrow”.
During the traditional dress portion of the pageant, the contestants were also given an impromptu question. Duwyenie’s impromptu question was “What do you think is the biggest problem among the younger generation today?”
She answered, “The biggest problem among the younger generation would have to be respect. This can be taken from a number of directions: from their bodies to the way they treat others—their elders, their families and their friends. The younger generation isn’t known to be the most respectful. That’s why in my family me and my cousins were always taught to respect our elders, especially our great-grandmother Selma. When we eat we make her a plate, we hold the door for her, we say ‘please’ and ‘thank you,’ we pray and we go visit her. It’s just the little things like that, that matter, little things like that in your life make a huge difference. So I would have to say that for the younger generation we all need to improve on our respect towards our bodies, drugs, relationships and others, but also towards our family members.”
The outgoing 2010–11 Miss Salt River, Lorraine Juan, took her farewell walk before the new 2011–12 Miss Salt River was announced.
Juan gave a thank-you speech, stating, “I am very lucky to have a supportive family from Salt River, Gila River and the Tohono O’odham Nation. I would like to say that this has been one of the most amazing experiences throughout my life, and I am thankful for everyone here to support the girls [who are] participating. I hope whoever wears the crown after me can truly do amazing things and have a great time like I have.”
Juan also invited Community members and the visiting bird singers and dancers to celebrate her final moments as Miss Salt River as she took her farewell walk.
Following Juan’s farewell walk, the crowd grew anxious as the time came to announce the awards and the title of the new 2011–12 Miss Salt River. The awards were announced first, with Duwyenie receiving the modern talent and essay awards, and Ludlow-Martinez receiving the evening wear, Miss Congeniality and Dorothy Lewis Traditional Talent awards.
Finally, the announcement came: Miss Salt River First Attendant went to Martha Ludlow-Martinez, and the 2011–12 Miss Salt River title went to Devanie Duwyenie.
The new royalty was introduced to the Community during the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Day Celebration, and celebrated with a traditional O’odham and Piipaash dancing and singing social after the Miss Salt River Pageant.
Devanie Duwyenie’s Essay
“Many claim our O’odham Himdak are being forgotten, but there are ways today that we cherish our past, honor our present, and plan for our future. Within the Community there are several traditional dance and singing groups that share the ways of the O’odham and Piipaash. There are languages classes that are offered to tribal and non-tribal members filled with instructors that not only have a passion for sharing the language, but preserving it as well. There are Community resources that carry bits and pieces of all of us, all of our hearts and souls. It is our job to carry on the [descendants] of our people; if we don’t, we can be forgotten. Who wants to be forgotten or raise a child and have he or she not know who they are? How can we embrace the river people with the deteriorating language rate or lack of traditional knowledge? We can’t, but through cultural preservation, the traditional and ancestry beliefs would be honored.”
Martha Ludlow-Martinez’s Essay
“Nowadays we no longer appreciate the small blessings in life and take many things for granted. We need to cherish both positive and negative times in our lives so we can strive for a better tomorrow. When we get caught in the storm of life, look for the simple pleasure and cherish what we have. Remember to inspire to be the best that we can be and cherish the past so that it may inspire our future.”
Junior Miss Salt River Pageant
Three contestants competed in the Jr. Miss Salt River Pageant this year: Skehg’Hiosik (Pretty Flower) Galindo, Dakota Loring and Ki-Ana Reina. They modeled modern and traditional dress, showcased unique talents and prepared an essay to present to the audience.
SRPMIC Council Representative Ricardo Leonard gave the welcome, and the mistress of ceremonies was Jeri Brunoe. Salt River High School Jr. ROTC posted the colors. The national anthem was performed by Alia Shaw, former Jr. Miss Salt River 2009–10. The invocation was given by Council Representative Tom Largo.
As the pageant began, Loring opened the modern wear presentation, followed by Galindo and Reina. Galindo was awarded Best Modern Dress, and she also won the title in Traditional Dress. Loring won the talent competition after showcasing her ability with a rifle, which was a routine she learned as a staff sergeant in Salt River High School’s Jr. ROTC. Reina was awarded Miss Congeniality.
During the essay portion of the pageant, the three contestants had the opportunity to give insight into their passion. Loring spoke on the importance of culture in her life and to the Community.
“Our future waits for us to change its course,” she said. “My future holds a lot of culture. Tomorrow may be just another day for people to get to, but for me it is another opportunity to achieve anything I want in my life. I will always be proud I am from Salt River and I promise myself to never let go of our traditions and cultures, because without them I am just not me.”
Galindo spoke about living with her sister, who has special needs, and how this has inspired her to help people to understand each other’s differences, as well as learn patience, responsibility and happiness.
“As I hear my sister sing and laugh, I often wonder how our ancestors lived long ago with handicaps or special needs,” she said. “One day I asked my great-grandma about this. She told me to sit down, and she taught me a song and dance about it and shared a story with me. The song and dance said, ‘Long ago the animals lived among the ancestors, and one day Coyote was on a hill watching people dance in the village below. The people were happy and laughing as they danced, swinging their colorful sticks back and forth. Coyote watched and desired to dance and be happy, just like the villagers. Slowly Coyote crawled down the hill, and soon he was right next to the villagers. He nudged one and asked if he could dance with them. The dancer told Coyote he cannot dance, because he has four legs. Coyote stood up and started dancing anyway. He ended up taking two extra steps to the right; the villagers watched, and soon they all began to follow. Soon all were happy as they sang and danced together.’ This legend of our ancestors has answered my curiosity and tells me our people learned [that] we can be the same and we can adapt and accept each other and our differences. I encourage all of you to take a step back and see how all of you can make a difference.”
Reina demonstrated the traditional skill of gathering hanam (cactus buds) as her talent. “Over the summer, I had the chance to pick the hanam,” she said. “Upon returning home, my dad and I talked about what our people used to eat. There is so much more than just going out and picking the foods. Our people went out and gathered and were among one another in a social atmosphere, and I wondered what it would be like to be in such a healthy, strong environment,” she said. “What would happen if we returned back to these traditions of gathering food? I believe as youth we should return back to these traditions, because in the long run it will take away from our experience and we would just be left with the food the Creator has given to us.”
As the Jr. Miss Salt River Pageant came to a close, outgoing Jr. Miss Salt River, Kaily Toney, said she has changed and learned a lot during her reign as Jr. Miss Salt River.
“One of the biggest changes is I have become a better speaker throughout this entire experience. I have met many people from many cultures, and made great friends with people within the court. They have taught me to learn more about myself. I hope I represented our Community in a respectful way and hope I showed people what a great Community we have,” Toney said.
Toney then crowned the 2011–12 Jr. Miss Salt River, Skehg’Hiosik (Pretty Flower) Galindo. Second Attendant was awarded to Dakota Loring, and First Attendant was awarded to Ki-Ana Reina.