After nearly 22 years of inactivity, the Miss Indian Scottsdale Community College pageant was revived this year by the school’s students and staff. The pageant was held on Monday, November 23, in the school’s Turquoise Room, where four young women competed for the chance to represent their respective tribal communities.
“We’ve heard that folks here from Salt River participated in the Miss Indian SCC [pageant] back in the 80s, so it’s just very interesting learning about the history. Last year was our first year again. The students and the Sun Earth Alliance Indian Club were very interested in bringing it back to campus. We’re all learning together. The biggest thing is [that] our students are able to come forward and share their communities and personal stories with us,” said Ana Cuddington, Director of the American Indian Program.
Before the event started, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member and SCC student Angelica “Jelly” Gonzales sang the national anthem in O’odham for those in attendance. SRPMIC royalty and various Community members were also in attendance to show their support for the program and the contestants.
“It really is a pleasure to get this opportunity to get up here and represent [SCC and SRPMIC]. I am currently majoring in communications, and from then on I want to be in the [Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act] (NAGPRA) area to repatriate a lot of the artifacts and our people who are taken from our Community. I want to do all that I can to bring all of that back here where they belong, with their people,” said Martinez during her introduction.
Like any other pageant, Miss Indian SCC judges the contestants in a variety of areas. Each contestant was judged on traditional dress, her introduction, a two-minute interview, a three-minute talent presentation and a five-minute oral presentation. See sidebar for contestants.
Community member Martha Martinez was selected as the 2015-16 Miss Indian Scottsdale Community College. She wore various outfits made by Community member Annette Ramirez, performed bird dancing as her talent, proudly displayed on her head an O’odham basket that has been in her family for over 100 years, spoke about cultural repatriation and revitalization, and presented on the SRPMIC, educating the audience about the Community.
Ahisha Smith was named 2015-16 Miss Indian Scottsdale Community College First Attendant.
“We are so fortunate that we have staff that are willing to continue this program, and it really does help a lot of these young women to persevere and to pursue higher education,” said Martinez, who continued to thank her many supporters, the Community and SCC.
“Without [my supporters], I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I do today. [Education] is something that we should [expect from] our youth. We’re just as capable as anyone else; we can persevere, and we’re going to make changes. … I hope that you all will continue to support not only the young ladies here, but all those who continue to get their education here.”
According to the SCC website, the primary goal of SCC’s American Indian Program is to assist American Indian students in achieving academic and personal success at Scottsdale Community College. The American Indian Program provides a wide variety of programs and services that are designed to assist students in their educational and personal development at Scottsdale Community College.
Noted 2015-16 Red Mountain Eagle Pow-Wow Princess Ky-Mani Harney, “It’s really nice to see all the girls come out, because there’s not a lot of people out there that try to be role models. Most of them are really shy and don’t want to come out and say anything. It’s really nice to have Martha around, because people say that when we’re around 20 or 30 [years old], all of this will vanish. But Martha teaches younger and older, and I think we’ll have it longer than they think we will. Martha did a really good job today.”
“I’m very proud of Martha. She’s been through a lot of challenges in her life, and she’s really grown through all of it. Everything she does, she works [for] and puts 100 percent effort into it. Congratulations, Martha!” said Community member Emaline Villalobos.