Nineteen-year-old Ki-Ana Reina, the daughter of Pacer and Nellie Reina, was crowned Miss Salt River on June 13 at the 27th Annual Miss Salt River Pageant at Talking Stick Resort.
Miss Salt River First Attendant went to Rosemary Lewis, Reina’s only competition. Lewis is 17 years old and the daughter of Nelroy Lewis and Angela Schurz. It was a tough decision for the five judges as they decided between Reina and Lewis, two well-spoken and worthy candidates, with Reina ultimately getting top prize.
Hundreds attended the pageant, which was themed “Flowers of the Desert” and co-emceed by Blessing McAnlis-Vasquez and Daryl Lynn Jay. Those in the audience witnessed not only the talent and poise of the two contestants, but also the reading of essays and the showcase of formal and traditional attire.
For traditional attire, Lewis wore a royal blue silk dress made by Valerie Schurz. The Man in the Maze sits atop two whirlwind baskets in the lower center of the dress, which represent life’s challenges. The dress was also accompanied by water waves from the front to the back, which represent growth.
Reina chose to represent O’odham women from the 1800s with her traditional attire. She was wrapped in material made of unbleached muslin that was tied below her shoulder. Around her waist was a green woven Mexican blanket, which was often used as an apron and likely would have been acquired through trade. Around her neck she wore strands of shells gathered by the men on their journey to the Sea of Cortez.
Contestants were also required to write and read an essay centered on the pageant theme, “Flowers of the Desert.” Lewis wrote, “I believe a flower of the desert is someone who can conquer anything they put their mind to, even when they have all odds against them.” She went on to explain how flowers of the desert never give up, do not hold grudges, and are strong, confident people.
Reina’s essay spoke of the many different types of flowers, especially the flowers grown within the Sonoran Desert: “To be able to stand the heat with scarce water and still look beautiful, just like any other flower, takes strength. Just like the women before, in order to blossom into their role as a lady, they had to have strength and they still looked just as beautiful without even trying.”
The anticipation grew as the competition continued, with each contestant giving their absolute best to their supporters and the pageant judges.
When all was said and done, cameras flashed and the crowd acknowledged Reina with applause. With a smile on her face, she was sashed and crowned by the outgoing Miss Salt River, Skehg’ Hoisik Galindo.
The newly crowned Miss Salt River is no stranger to pageants. Reina was 2006-07 Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess, 2011-12 Jr. Miss Salt River First Attendant, and 2012-13 Jr. Miss Salt River. Although she has experience with pageants, Reina was still nervous during the week leading up to the pageant.
In the days before the pageant, contestants spent their time preparing for the big event. Pageant Week workshops included public speaking, basket weaving, a pottery demonstration and toka.
“Pageant Week really puts you in the mindset that it is going to be pageant day soon. When you’re in that mindset and you’re really focused on it, it gives you that motivation to practice,” said Reina.
Reina’s platform for the year is Health and Wellness, but she also intends to spend time recruiting others and encouraging youth to step out of their comfort zone.
Reina and Lewis were introduced to the Community at Community Day. When asked what she would like the Community to know, Reina said, “I would like to let them know that I’m really thankful for their support with this program. It’s been going on for quite a while, and the support they give each young lady, no matter the title holder or the attendant … it’s a really good feeling to know that your Community is behind you.”
More on the 2015 Salt River Royalty in future issues.