Nine young women, representing six different tribes, competed for this year’s title. The first pageant winner, Shaylin Shabi (Navajo/Dine’) acted as hostess and Mistress of Ceremonies. Current title-holder, April Brannon Yazza (Zuni Pueblo and Navajo/Dine’) presented the sash to the new Miss Native American USA 2015, Kristina Hyatt (Eastern Band of Cherokee). Rising star, Sage Bond, was the evening’s entertainment. The Pageant Director/Owner of MNAUSA Organization is Tashina Atine (Navajo/Dine’). “Our Mission is dedicated to recognizing and honoring Native American women throughout the United States. We encourage Indigenous women in achieving their personal goals, build characters, enhance self-esteem, and develop leadership skills alongside giving back to our Native communities through volunteering. MNAUSA helps promote, address, support, and collaborate in areas of continuing education, domestic violence, alcohol & drugs, suicide prevention, teenage pregnancy, youth violence, AIDS prevention, diabetes prevention and intervention in urban and Native Americans communities.”
DeWayne Dawson (Navajo), PR Director for the pageant, says that what distinguishes MNAUSA from other pageants is “the MNAUSA title gives our titleholders the opportunity to share their culture from their respected tribes and mend it with the modern world we live in today. We encourage both the traditional and modern world to be equally represented by each titleholder throughout their reign. An example would be a titleholder attending a university working toward a degree and also attending traditional events/ceremonies on their reservations – she will encourage higher education and teach other Native Tribes/Non Natives across the country and around the world about her culture. The title projects the voices of our titleholders to share their platforms, encourage higher education, learn leadership, and healthy living to name a few in both mainstream and Native American communities.”
The young women, aged 18-27, must be US citizens, and must reside within the US throughout her yearlong reign. The contestant must be 1/4 Native American and provide proof of Certificate of Indian Blood (CIB). She must have never been married, pregnant or have any dependents. Finally, each contestant must hold a charitable platform during the initial competition and the winner must continue to support her platform throughout her reign.
Dawson continues: “MNAUSA’s duties as a Native American ambassador is to support and encourage her platform among the Native/Non Native communities throughout the country and around the world. This is done by traveling to Native American gatherings, schools, universities or other pageants to present her message to the public. MNAUSA also does radio, television and magazine appearances, again promoting her platform. She will appear in public in either her traditional regalia or a modern wear, depending on the event but will always wear her sash and our now iconic crown. With grace and poise, our talented, beautiful, educated, and well-spoken titleholders become great role models to youth everywhere, and an added bonus is that they are proud Native Americans sharing their message and culture.”