“The Spirit of the Crown Celebrating Indian Woman of Courage & Vision” was the theme for this year’s Miss Indian Arizona program, which was held on Saturday, October 8 at the Chandler Center for the Arts. This year the organization behind the pageant, the Miss Indian Arizona Association (MIAA), celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Miss Indian Arizona for 2011-12 is Jaymee Li Moore, from the Colorado River Indian Tribes. Martha Ludlow Martinez of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is First Attendant, and Second Attendant is Edith Renee Star from the San Carlos Apache Tribe.
This year, eight young women competed to become Miss Indian Arizona. All 21 Arizona tribes can participate in MIAA and are allowed to select one young lady to represent their tribe. She must be between the ages of 17 and 24 and attend high school, college or a trade school.
Martha Ludlow Martinez Selected to Represent SRPMIC
The Salt River pageant committee thought that Martinez would be a great representative of the Community. Martinez said she never imagined herself running for Miss Indian Arizona, so when she was selected she was “honored” and only hoped she could do her best to represent her Community, where she has lived for all 21 years of her young life.
Martinez is the daughter of Kathy Ludlow and Timoteo Martinez and currently attends Scottsdale Community College. Growing up, she was a shy, timid girl who found a love for music. She joined the band at Westwood High School.
At the Miss Indian Arizona program, you would have never been able to tell Martinez was shy. She stood tall and spoke loudly as she recited a tale told to her by one of the seniors from the Community. It was called “The Little Frog and the Spirit of the Storm.” In the story, the frog doubts his ability to “call down the rain,” but in the end the rain pours. Like the frog, Martinez doubted herself in running for Miss Indian Arizona, but in the end she wowed the judges and even won the Oral Presentation and People’s Choice Award. She received $574 along with the People’s Choice Award and said she is going to donate some to Angelica Schurz. “I think it is my turn to give back.”
Martinez hopes being Miss Indian Arizona First Attendant will help her grow, since competing in the pageant already has helped her open up and come out of her shyness. She said that she hopes to be a good representative and good role model for the Community.
“I felt real good about the pageant Saturday. I never thought I would be running for Miss Indian Arizona,” she said. “I was really glad that I got to experience the pageant, we have all become friends, and this whole experience has been amazing. The Salt River pageant committee has been gracious, helping her with her dresses and teaching her how to be a role model. She hopes to show other girls that they too can run for Miss Indian Arizona.
“This is a possibility for each and every one of the girls on the Community; this is something they should do. Run for Jr. Miss, Miss Salt River, run for Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess—these are things that can help you grow and can provide a positive avenue, and it can help you in so many ways,” said Martinez.
History of Miss Indian Arizona
The Miss Indian Arizona Pageant is sponsored by the Miss Indian Arizona Association, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Over the decades, more than 600 young women like Martinez have learned and grown as they participated in the Miss Indian Arizona competition.
In 1961, Charles Garland, who at the time was the director of the Arizona State Fair, thought a pageant for Native American young ladies would be a good idea.
But an Arizona Republic article published in June 1967 stated that the MIAA was “scalped due to lack of Wampum.” (Keep in mind those comments were made in 1967.) The pageant would be housed at the Arizona State Fair for five years, and then for the next 32 years would be hosted by various Indian reservations across the state, sponsored by the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, the State Fair Commission and Arizona tribes. But for 17 of those years, MIAA had a regular home, the Colorado Indian Tribes and the Irataba Society.
In 2000, the Miss Indian Arizona program returned to the Phoenix metropolitan area and was sponsored by the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona. This was when the Miss Indian Arizona pageant would become the Miss Indian Arizona scholarship program, and the focus turned more toward culture, academics and community service.
Today, each young lady is judged on Arizona Indian traditional principles, such as values through songs, dance, stories, dress and humor. The ladies compete in six categories: the interview; talent, which can be contemporary or traditional; the evening gown; traditional dress; oral presentation; and personal interviews.
The Community has had the honor of having three women reign as Miss Indian Arizona. Charlene Enos held the title in 1971-72, Selena Loring Espinoza held the crown in 1989-90, and Rebecca Makil held the crown in 1990-91.
Last year, Community member Jessica Ruiz was First Attendant for Miss Indian Arizona Sweetie Cody.