On Tuesday, October 23, the 2011-12 Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess, Ezeriah Ramirez, passed on her crown to her former first attendant, Sommer Lopez, during the Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess Pageant. Lopez is the daughter of Rito and Christy Lopez. She is 10 years old and is in the fifth grade at Pima Elementary.
Lopez, along with other contestants Shaylee Scabby, Zvlen Washington, Linda Balderrama and Sialik King, participated in this year’s pageant. The girls presented themselves in front of their family, friends and fellow Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community members by introducing themselves, wearing their best traditional regalia, and reciting an essay on why they would like to be the next Red Mountain Pow-Wow Princess.
Lopez was awarded the title of 2012-13 Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess and Washington was selected as the first attendant.
On Saturday, November 3, Lopez was crowned in a special ceremony during the Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow grand entry. She and her family, friends and supporters performed an honor round dance after the grand entry.
“Being first attendant this past year has helped prepare me for this year’s pageant,” said Lopez. “I was really shy before and didn’t like to do stuff in front of people, but this year I was better at talking in front of people at the pageant.”
Last year, Lopez had the opportunity to travel to a number of different pow-wows, including one in Hilo, Hawaii.
“I traveled a lot. My favorite [pow-wows] were in Hilo, Hawaii and White Shield, North Dakota,” said Lopez. “My grandma’s family lives in North Dakota, so we got to visit with a lot of family from there. In Hawaii I didn’t know anyone, but it was nice to meet new people and sightsee when we had free time.”
Lopez decided to enter the pageant the first time because her family had attended a lot of pow-wows and dances with her grandparents’ group, the Yellow Bird Indian Dancers. During her first year as a part of the Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess court, she found she liked it and decided to take another try at it again this year.
“I was very excited because all the work I did during my fall break paid off,” said Lopez after winning the pageant. “I look forward to going to all the pow-wows and going to meet new people.”
During her preparation for the pageant, her family and friends helped and encouraged her.
“Most of my family helped me practice, like my aunt and her family, my grandma and grandpa, and Jessica Ruiz, the former Miss Indian Arizona First Attendant,” said Lopez. “She [Jessica] helped me; we practiced on dancing traditional, memorizing my speeches, poise and posture, sitting down, how to walk, and my wave.”
“She really wanted to do this. She worked hard over the summer vacation and fall break and practiced her different essays. She probably wrote about four different essays and kept changing it. She likes to write, so that’s what she focused on,” said Lopez’s mother, Christy Lopez. “The year before, she wasn’t really prepared and didn’t practice as much as this year. Going to the pageants helped. This past year she went to the Whiteriver pageant, Miss Indian Arizona Pageant, Salt River pageants and others. Hanging out with Ezeriah helped a lot too. Last year she wasn’t ready, but this year she really wanted to do it.”
Her biggest supporters were her uncles Kevin and Tony, Aunt Violet, the Duncan family, and Jessica Ruiz, Martha Ludlow, Janet Johnson and David Montiel.
Lopez’s experience with the pageant has helped her come out of her shell. She said it has encouraged her to run for the office of her class treasurer, and on the day of our interview she was elected as her class president. She hopes to participate in the Jr. Miss Salt River Pageant when she reaches the age qualifications.
“I’m just really proud of her; seeing her grow up before my eyes blows me back,” said Lopez’s father, Rito Lopez. “Seeing her up there reading in front of everyone—I would have a hard time doing that, but seeing her up there made me proud of her doing all the things she is able to do now.”