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Navajo Nation Fair: A Cool Cultural Experience

Sep 23, 2015

By: Lynn Barker

Every year Navajo Indian teens and tweens look forward to the Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Arizona. It’s much like a state fair in the rest of the U.S. Opening the fair there is a big parade with bands, floats and various queens and princesses in gorgeous full Navajo traditional dress. This year, Kidzworld checked it out.

The beginning of the big paradeThe beginning of the big paradeCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Teen Navajo band membersTeen Navajo band membersCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Your reporter was lucky to get to attend the first section of the fair activities, the giant parade that goes on for six miles! At the several day fair, in addition to rides, a rodeo, concerts, dance, arts and crafts competitions and great food (you’ve gotta try a Navajo taco!), there is the contest for Navajo Nation Queen. To run for Queen you have to be 18 to 25 years of age with no children, be able to speak the difficult Navajo language called Dine’ Bizaad, write an essay, be an artist and be in an evening gown competition as well as wearing traditional attire.

A colorful homemade floatA colorful homemade floatCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Rodeo QueensRodeo QueensCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Royalty on horsebackRoyalty on horsebackCourtesy of Lynn Barker

The pageant includes a Miss Congeniality and Miss Photogenic and the contestants also have to butcher a sheep! Before you go “ewwww”, know that not all but many Navajos raise sheep and either sell them or use the meat and freeze it to eat all year in delicious mutton stews etc. It’s a big part of the traditional diet so being able to cut up the meat properly is a big deal. The winner is selected by a panel of judges.

The outgoing Miss Navajo Nation 2014The outgoing Miss Navajo Nation 2014Courtesy of Lynn Barker

A young Navajo Little PrincessA young Navajo Little PrincessCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Miss Navajo Nation, just like Miss America, is the Ambassador of the Nation for the year she reigns, visiting all over the world and representing her people. Although there is no Miss Teen Navajo Nation, every school and college in the huge Navajo Nation (which includes much of Arizona and New Mexico) elects a Pow Wow Princess or Queen and many are tweens and teens. They all foster a cause and many, like you, are against bullying at school. At the fair there are also Rodeo Queens who have to ride horses well and many wear more cowboy-style attire.

Miss Indian Arizona and courtMiss Indian Arizona and courtCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Teens in traditional dressesTeens in traditional dressesCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Miss Navajo Nation crowns are made of gorgeous silver and set with precious stones like turquoise, coral, jet, mother of pearl etc. This year a new crown was unveiled and the 2015 Miss Navajo Nation Alyson Jeri Shirley of Tolani Lake, Arizona got to wear it!  She is studying to be a lawyer and wants to revitalize the Navajo language and culture. At the crowning, outgoing Miss Navajo Nation McKeon Dempsey told the new queen to believe in and stay true to herself. Great advice!

Miss Navajo Nation 2015Miss Navajo Nation 2015

Eagle atop one of the floatsEagle atop one of the floatsCourtesy of Lynn Barker

Next year, this reporter hopes to attend more of the colorful fair. The Navajo people are some of the most welcoming and friendly folks on earth. They deserve our respect and admiration.

Tweens in a dance troupeTweens in a dance troupeCourtesy of Lynn Barker

A beautiful traditional outfitA beautiful traditional outfitCourtesy of Lynn Barker

One of the many young royalsOne of the many young royalsCourtesy of Lynn Barker