Reigning Miss Native American USA Kristina Hyatt will pass on her crown and sash at the fifth annual Miss Native American USA Pageant – also a scholarship pageant starting with the 2016-17 event – taking place on Saturday, August 27, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.
The annual pageant recognizes and supports Native American women in the United States by helping them to "develop leadership skills alongside giving back to their Native communities through volunteering."
Community involvement is key to the program. Hyatt, who won last year's pageant, is a dental hygienist of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and works for Cherokee, North Carolina's Indian Health Services. She spent her reign promoting oral health on reservations and in other Native communities across the country.
The 2016 pageant will be hosted by 2013 crown winner Sarah Ortegon, an artist and actress of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes, and professional athlete Sean Carlton of the Navajo Nation. There will also be entertainment from musician Sage Bond of the Navajo and Apache Tribes from Tonalea, Arizona.
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Pageant events include personal interviews, traditional regalia and evening gown competitions, and presentations like hoop and traditional dance, storytelling, singing, and a showcase of tribal culture. When crowned, the winner becomes a representative of the organization and an ambassador for her tribe and Native America. She'll also work to highlight a specific, charitable platform. Competitors must be unmarried United States citizens (and must remain in the U.S. if crowned), between 18 and 27 years of age, and at least one-quarter Native American based on a Certificate of Indian Blood.
The majority of the eight contestants who've made it this far in the competition are from Arizona, including Whiteriver's Ashley Susan (White Mountain Apache, Walker River Paiute), Fort Apache Indian Reservation's Danya Sancia Carroll (White Mountain Apache, Navajo), Coal Mine Canyon's Lyla Hatathlie (Navajo), and Flagstaff's Taylor Adriana Harvey (Navajo).
Other contestants include Towaoc, Colorado's Tawnie Snow Knight (Ute Mountain Ute); Acoma, New Mexico's Ashley Nichole Sarah Pino (Acoma Pueblo, Santo Domingo, Northern Cheyenne); Waterflow, New Mexico's Kansas Begaye (Navajo); and Whitetail, New Mexico's Karrie Raquel Lester (Mescalero Apache).
Tickets to the 2016 Miss Native American USA Pageant are $15 for general admission. They're available by calling Tempe Center for the Arts' box office at 480-350-2822 or through the Tempe Center for the Arts website. Doors open at 5 p.m. on Saturday, August 27, and the pageant begins at 6. For more information, visit the Miss Native American USA Pageant Facebook page.