The Annual “Miss Hozhoni” pageant at Fort Lewis College has been renamed Ms. Hozhoni.
The Ms. Hozhoni Pageant is an event during Hozhoni Days, which is put on every spring by FLC’s Wanbli Ota club, FLC anthropology and gender and women's studies professor, Kathleen Fine-Dare, said.
“Ms. is the equivalent of Mr.,” Fine-Dare said. “But we got in the habit of having titles for women that indicate their marital status. Miss has connotation of being unmarried, and no children. So to have a pageant be Miss Hozhoni, means that it limits who can apply.”
The Ms. Hozhoni pageant has always been open to all genders. If someone, such as a transgendered person were to apply, and if they didn’t want to reveal their gender, they would be named Mx. Hozhoni. If a male wanted to apply, they would be named Mr. Hozhoni, Fine-Dare said.
“We’re just changing the name from Miss to Ms.,” Fine-Dare said. “We’re not changing the rules at all.”
The first annual Hozhoni Days was started by Clyde Benally in 1964, Wanbli Ota president Alyssa Tapaha said. The first Miss Hozhoni was Lili Marlaine Naranjo, in 1966.
The Ms. Hozhoni pageant has always been a big event within Hozhoni Days at FLC, Fine-Dare said. However, for eight years, 1992-1999, the pageant didn’t occur due to the idea of sexism and colonization, she said.
“In my view, the pageant is indigenized,” Fine-Dare said. “It’s a way to highlight something besides superficial beauty, but cultural knowledge. The young women have to write an essay that speaks to their intellectual and cultural interests and identity.”
The nominees for Ms.Hozhoni show both modern and traditional talents through crafts, cooking, singing, dancing, storytelling and much more, Fine-Dare said.
“I think that starting here at a college sets an example for the rest of these pageants that are here in the Southwest,” Alicia (A.J.) Nequatewa, a Native American indigenous studies major, said. “With the name change here, it is a big example. It shows that there’s a space for change, and that we are paving the way.”