Twenty-two young Native American women will compete for the Miss Indian World title this week in Albuquerque. Similar to Miss America, the winner will represent all indigenous people throughout North America. But it’s not your typical pageant.
Contestants wear traditional dress, perform their tribe’s dances and have to be prepared to answer questions like, "what is tribal sovereignty?" They’re judged on their cultural knowledge. Three Arizona contestants will compete this year.
Hopi contestant 19-year-old Andrea Lomayaktewa said she’s competing because she promised her brother before he died that she would follow her dream.
“I dreamed of doing this since I was a little girl,” Lomayaktewa said. “I was telling my Mom when I was small I always wanted to be Miss Indian World and she said I could do it with hard work and dedication. And that’s exactly what it took.”
Lomayaktewa said she wants to be a role model and to encourage young people to speak their native language. The winner will serve as an ambassador and travel to indigenous communities throughout the world.