On June 14, the anniversary of the day in 1879 that the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community was established as a sovereign tribe, four young women of the SRPMIC shared their knowledge of their Community in a competition to become the 2013-14 Jr. Miss Salt River. The following day, another set of four outstanding young women competed against each other for the title of 2013-14 Miss Salt River.
The Jr. Miss Salt River Competition
On Friday, June 14, the four Jr. Miss Salt River contestants took the stage at the Talking Stick Resort to show family, friends and fellow Community members their talents and knowledge of the O’odham and Piipaash cultures, reflecting the pageant theme, “Onk Akimel O’odham/Xalychidom Piipaash.” The contestants were Briah Johnson, Nani Reina, Evenna Lopez and Teya Johnson. They all came out donning a traditional dress representing their heritage as they stepped onto the stage to introduce themselves.
The talent portion of the Jr. Miss Salt River pageant gave the participants an opportunity to show the audience what they learned about the O’odham and Piipaash traditions and also to demonstrate other talents.
Briah Johnson performed a hula dance and the O’odham “What Kind of Flower” dance for her talent presentation. Then Reina sang an O’odham traditional song taught to her by SRPMIC Council Member Ricardo Leonard. She dedicated the performance to both of her grandmothers. Lopez sang the “Eagle Plume” song for her talent. Teya Johnson performed two O’odham dances, the Basket Dance and the O’odham social dance called “Bat’s Cave.” She learned and has been performing both dances with the O’odham Traditional Dancers since she was 5 years old.
Each contestant then presented a contemporary outfit that she felt best captured her personality. After that, each contestant recited her essay based on her interpretation of this year’s pageant theme.
Wearing a classic white sheath dress accented with a belt, Briah Johnson stated, “What Akimel O’odham means to me is like one big family. Although I am not Piipaash, I still have respect for their culture because we are two tribes in one Community. My traditional ceremony had taught me a lot, like to respect my elders and to respect myself. The traditional ceremony has taught me to be thankful for what you have, like food, electricity, water, and most of all a home. To me, the most important blessing I learned is you have to be proud of being an O’odham. We also have to be thankful for our leaders, because they are the ones who got us where we are today. I am the second-oldest sister, and my role is to show my little sisters [how] to try hard at everything they do, never give up, and most of all have fun.”
Reina selected a semi-formal, knee-length, royal-blue dress, topped with a white long-sleeved blazer and accented with red wedge sandals. Lopez chose to wear a ivory and black spaghetti-strap dress with back sequin accents. The skirt featured rose designs, and to accent her outfit she wore pearl earrings and a pearl strand necklace. Teya Johnson wore a Kathy Roberts two-piece dress and jacket original. The dress featured a square neck trim. Her accessories included sparkling double rhinestone earrings and multiple bangle bracelets.
In the final category, each contestant stood before the audience as a reflection of a traditional O’odham and Piipaash woman with her dress of choice representing her heritage. Briah Johnson wore a wool plaid print of purple, teal, and black; her dress fell to her calves and she wore traditional sandals. She chose to accessorize with strands of seed beads and shells, holding an O’odham basket made by the late Isadora Corea Johnson. Reina chose to wear an O’odham-style outfit, composed of a peasant-style blouse and a wraparound cotton skirt. She wore traditional O’odham-style sandals. Lopez’s muslin dress was designed by her uncle Richard Lopez. It had an off-the-shoulder top and a skirt with a design of ant flute players. She accented her dress with an earth-tone necklace and earrings. Teya Johnson wore a woven skirt over a one-piece wraparound dress. The wrap portion represented the designs found on Huhugam pottery. She accented her outfit with a seed-bead necklace.
After the final category, the suspense rose among the crowed as families and friends waited for the announcement of who the new Jr. Miss Salt River titleholder would be. But before that, the category winners were announced.
The Congeniality Award went to Nani Reina. Teya Johnson won the Talent Award for her presentation. The Essay and Traditional Dress awards went to Briah Johnson, and Lopez received a Participation Award.
The final moment arrived: the 2013-14 Jr. Miss Salt River title went to Briah Johnson. To fulfill her duties, she will serve as a goodwill ambassador for the Community; represent herself, her family and the O’odham/Piipaash people in a dignified and respectful manner; and serve those who are in need. She is the daughter of Dawn Sinoqui and Shawn Johnson, and the granddaughter of the late Paulita Carlisle and Gilbert Sinoqui and Diane and Leland Johnson. Her tribal affiliations are Akimel O’odham, White Mountain Apache, Tohono O’odham and Mission. Her hobbies include Polynesian dancing and playing basketball at Stapley Junior High.
“I wanted to run for Jr. Miss Salt River because there are many opportunities for me to be more involved in my community, meeting new people, traveling to different places, and to become more outgoing,” said Briah Johnson.
The First Attendant title went to Nani Reina. In the event that the new Jr. Miss Salt River is unable to fulfill her duties, the First Attendant will take over her reign. The Second Attendant title went to Teya Johnson.
The Miss Salt River Competition
The following day, the Miss Salt River Pageant was held at the Talking Stick Resort during the afternoon. Another group of four outstanding young women took to the stage to compete for the title of 2013-14 Miss Salt River: Angela Reina, Victoria Carlos, Martha Ludlow-Martinez and Angelique Schurz.
Wearing their choice of traditional attire, the young women introduced themselves, sharing with the audience a little bit about their family members, their hobbies and their goals in life.
In the Miss Salt River Pageant, the contestants demonstrate both a modern and a traditional talent. They model evening wear and traditional wear, and recite an essay on the pageant’s theme: “Onk Akimel O’odham/Xalychidom Piipaash.”
Reina put her education skills to use during the modern talent portion. She demonstrated a dry-ice experiment, giving the audience a little lesson on what happens when dry ice is mixed with water, soap and food coloring. She shined as bright as a diamond in a floor-length evening gown, wearing 3-inch heels and an earring and bracelet set to complete her look. For her traditional talent, she shared her skill in picking saguaro cactus fruit. In the traditional dress presentation, Reina wore a two-piece O’odham satin dress that had mountain designs and was red and gold, representing her Arizona State University school spirit.
Carlos played the clarinet for her modern talent. She learned to play the instrument as a little girl, and she said it has kept her on the right path as she grows into a positive young adult. She wore a lush red evening gown that tied around the neck. For jewelry she wore a necklace and matching dangling earrings, and she completed her evening look with silver heels. For her traditional talent, Carlos gave a brief explanation of three traditional O’odham dances that are commonly known: the Basket Dance, Swing Dance and the Going Home Dance. During the traditional dress category, Carlos chose to wear a wraparound dress made of an off-white muslin material. On the bottom of the dress was painted a Man in the Maze and a wave design, accented with thin ribbons on the outside rim of the wave design. She wore shell necklaces and bracelets and in her hand she carried a woven basket.
As contestant number three, Ludlow-Martinez demonstrated waila dancing for her modern talent, giving a brief history of this popular activity among the O’odham/Piipaash people. For her evening wear, she chose a floor-length light-pink gown embellished with lace, small pink and white flowers, gold threading, and small pink, silver and cream-colored beads. She chose to accessorize it with a gold necklace with pink stones, and matching earrings. For her traditional talent, she told a story about the burden basket. For her traditional dress, she chose to depict a style that became more common among Native Americans after Spanish and European contact in the late 1800s. She also wore a blanket to keep warm, and on top of her head she had a basket made by her great-grandmother Effie Ludlow.
As the final contestant, Schurz shared her passion for rodeo with the audience and demonstrated her skill at barrel racing and roping, two of her favorite rodeo events. For her evening wear, Schurz chose a floor-length chiffon evening gown in a shade of sangria, accessorized with a crystal necklace, earrings and clutch purse. For her traditional talent, Schurz explained the history of Toka, a traditional O’odham women’s game that is similar to hockey. Her traditional outfit was a one-piece Akimel O’odham-style dress consisting of a long piece of cloth simply wrapped around the torso then tied and tucked in. A cloth apron was wrapped around her waist. She also wore strands of seed beads and painted her face with clay from the river to protect her skin.
All the young ladies patiently awaited the announcement of the new 2013-14 Miss Salt River, but first the awards in each category were presented.
The Congeniality Award went to Angela Reina. The Modern Talent, Essay, Traditional Dress and the Dorothy Lewis Traditional Talent awards all went to Martha Ludlow-Martinez. Victoria Carlos received a Participation Award.
The 2013-14 Miss Salt River is Martha Ludlow-Martinez. To fulfill her duties, she will serve as a goodwill ambassador for the Community; represent herself, her family and the O’odham/Piipaash people in a dignified and respectful manner; and serve those who are in need. Ludlow-Martinez is 22 years old and is Akimel O’odham, Navajo. and Mexican. She is the daughter of Kathy Ludlow and Timoteo Martinez. Her grandparents are Ruth Ludlow and the late Maurice Ludlow, and Empara Garcia and the late Antonio Martinez. In her free time, she loves to volunteer, participate in traditional dancing and singing, and learn how to do new things. She is currently a student at Scottsdale Community College and plans to transfer to a major university, where she will work on a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in Indian studies.
When asked why she entered this year’s Miss Salt River Pageant, Ludlow-Martinez said, “To have the opportunity to be a representative for the Community that goes beyond what you do on a day-to-day basis. I feel the title of Miss Salt River goes beyond what people see because she is not just a titleholder, she is an ambassador for the Community, and I would like the opportunity to be that ambassador for the Community.”
The Miss Salt River First Attendant title went to Angela Reina. In the event that the new Miss Salt River is unable to fulfill her duties, the First Attendant will take over her reign. The Second Attendant is Angelique Schurz.
Following the Miss Salt River Pageant, the new 2013-14 Miss and Jr. Miss Salt River royalty made their first appearances as Community ambassadors during the SRPMIC Community Day Celebration.