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A Q&A With the Hozhoni Ambassador and 1st Attendant

A Q&A With the Hozhoni Ambassador and 1st Attendant

By: Taylor Hutchison

Tuesday, April 23, 2019 | Number of views (4927)

The Independent sat down with Hozhoni Ambassador Candidates after the 2019 Hozhoni Days Pageant to learn more about their experiences as candidates. The Hozhoni Ambassador, Ally Gee, and Hozhoni Ambassador 1st Attendant, Tiarney Andreas, were later crowned at the Hozhoni Days Powwow on April 12 and 13 in the Whalen Gymnasium at Fort Lewis College.

 

Ally Gee, Hozhoni Ambassador

 

What year are you?

 

I’m a sophomore.

 

What is your major? Minor?

 

I’m a public health major and I’m going to get a public health certificate so I can go to nursing school.

 

What tribe or nation are you affiliated with?

 

I’m Navajo, so I’m Diné.

 

What can you tell me about the history and cultural significance of the pageant and Hozhoni Days in general?

 

I know pageantry in general was started to help assimilate Native Americans into western society and I’m pretty sure it’s the same here. They [Wanbli Ota] use it as a cultural ambassador to educate people who don’t know about the Native American population, about our various cultures and about how diverse we are.

 

Why is the pageant important to Fort Lewis College?

 

I think it’s important to Fort Lewis College because we have such a large Native American population and I think pageantry provides an avenue for representation for indigenous people and representation is important because how are policymakers going to make good decisions about us if they don’t know anything about us? So, I think it’s good to have accurate information, so you can make decisions based off of that.

 

Why is it important to you?

 

I think pageantry is a good way to connect yourself with your ancestors. The skills that you need to run in a pageant are things that your ancestors likely used, so it’s a way to connect yourself with your ancestors. When I’m far away from home, getting to showcase a talent that I’ve learned from my family, getting to tell people “Hey, my family taught me this and this where I come from,” is my way of staying connected to my culture.

 

Why did you choose to participate in the pageant?

 

I think, for me personally, I’m not really involved here at Fort Lewis College and I’m trying to be more involved, and this year I was like “Ok, I’m going to do a lot more,” so this was one of the ways that I was like “Ok, I’ll try it and see what happens” and along the way I picked up all these new skills from April and Lacey [previous Hozhoni Ambassador and 1st Attendant] and I got to meet the other contestants and we became really good friends. I think it was just a learning experience for me. I’ve never ran in such a serious pageant. I’ve done high school ones, but they don’t require as much of you.

 

How did you prepare for the pageant?

 

I’m a procrastinator, so I waited until the last three days to actually start preparing, but it was information that I already knew so I didn’t want to psych myself out with over preparing. I mean, you can’t really be over prepared, but just scare myself, basically. I think I had to prepare a lot for this speech because I struggle a lot with writing speeches and with that I just asked my family for advice and they told me ‘speak from the heart, speak from what experiences you have and what you think Fort Lewis needs to hear,’ and so that’s what I did. It was just a lot of thinking by myself and practicing my speech. That was the thing I was most scared of, was my speech.  

 

What was your talent at the pageant? Why?

 

My talent was the preparation of blue corn mush and the importance of corn to our tribe. I chose this talent because eating ancestral food is one of the ways that we can re-indigenize our everyday life. It’s a healthy food, because it’s made of corn, and it’s easy to make. It was something I felt the audience could learn something about. I talked about the tools and how hard it is to make blue corn mush and all the preparation that goes into it. I thought it was just something fun and interesting to talk about and something that people could learn about our tribe.

 

Should you win the pageant, what goals would you have?

 

I think, based on my platform, I want to re-indigenize our educational spaces and provide the tools for students to be able to remember how our ancestors lived, so remembering to meditate, remembering to pray for yourself, remembering that if you’re stressed you should talk to someone or fixing the way we eat, fixing the way we deal with stress, having the ability to ground yourself when you’re in class and thinking ‘How can I apply this to helping my community?’ and ‘How can I apply this information I’m learning to what my ancestors learned?’ That’s my platform, to help people at Fort Lewis College re-indigenize their lives.

 

Why do you deserve to win the pageant?

 

I think any of the candidates deserve to win. We all bring different things to the table, but I think for me personally, it’s kind of hard to talk about yourself, but I think that I work my hardest at things even if I don’t succeed the first time, so I think for me I’m not afraid of failure. I’m not afraid of messing up, so it’s a learning experience, so I just hope to inspire other people who are also introverted to try something new, but like I said I think that all of us are perfectly capable of carrying out the roll of the Hozhoni Ambassador and I’m just hopeful.

 

Tiarney Andreas, Hozhoni Ambassador 1st Attendant

 

What year are you?

 

I’m a sophomore.

 

What is your major? Minor?

 

I’m a double major, so I’m a sociology and psychology major.

 

What tribe or nation are you affiliated with?

 

Bishop Paiute and White Mountain Apache.

 

What can you tell me about the history and cultural significance of the pageant and Hozhoni Days in general?

 

I know historically most of the Miss Hozhonis, or Hozhoni ambassadors, have been Navajo. That’s really all I know about it.

 

Why is the pageant important to Fort Lewis College?

 

I think it's important because, having such a big native population, we don't get much representation. We get a lot more than most colleges but I still find when I’m in most of my classes I’m generally one of two native students. I think it’s important to have that representation.

 

Why is it important to you?

It's important to me because I’ve been a royalty before, I know how people hold you to a higher standard, and I also know that even though you are royalty, it can be hard to have that title but also handle your day-to-day life, like school or extracurricular activities. I think it’s important to me because even though you have all these things that you’re doing you’re still trying to be that voice for other people and be a good representative.

 

Why did you choose to participate in the pageant?

 

I was very hesitant because I felt like most of the past Miss Hozhonis were very in touch with their culture and I am not. My mom kind of moved around with me when I was little and my family is split between Christianity and spirituality, so I never really grew up with my [native] tradition, but I decided to do it because I had been a [pageant] royalty before and this was on a whole other level of what I had experienced in my small town. I thought that this would be a great opportunity for me to get out there but also for me to figure out if I really want to continue in the pageant world and also I think that I’d really love to represent native students and be that voice for other people.

 

How did you prepare for the pageant?

 

We had an essay that we had to do and our speech was based off our essay, so I took main points from my essay and tried to incorporate them in my speech. They already had my essay and my platform, so I just tried to explain why I chose my platform, so I just did more personal experience.

 

For my talent, I had done ribbon dancing before but it had been a while and, it was like what I said when I was at the pageant, most women in our tribe don’t do it anymore. There are probably two older women and two younger girls, but that’s it and I wanted to do something traditional that I wanted to learn and become more involved with and more knowledgeable of, so I was calling elders from back home and other girls who were doing it and asking what it meant to them, so I was also figuring out that part of my tradition that I really didn’t know about, so I thought that was really cool.

 

What was your talent at the pageant? Why?

 

Ribbon dancing is a Paiute women’s traditional dance. I wanted to learn more about it because I knew a little, but I didn't know the significance of it. It's something that girls start to do, but they always forget about it, or dont care about it later on. That’s kind of how I felt when I was in high school. I did it when I was younger, so I wanted to learn more about it and teach more about it because a lot of people here know about their culture, a lot about navajo culture and the more popular tribes here, but some of our tribes are underrepresented so I wanted to be that voice for my tribe in a way.

 

Should you win the pageant, what goals would you have?

 

Should I win the pageant, I think my goals would be to be more involved with the student body. I try to be involved with as much as I can, and as much diversity as I can, which is why I joined The Independent. I think that would be a goal, to be more inclusive of everyone, to encourage people to come to more native events because most of the time at native events there are only natives. Some of the student body doesn’t get to participate because they think they’re not welcome even though we try to be as inclusive as we can.

 

My platform is to focus on mental health. I know we have a lot of good resources here at Fort Lewis, like a ton, like WellPAC and what not, but I’ve always struggled with mental health, but I've always found it hard to go to certain events or go to club meetings for WellPAC every Wednesday, because it interferes with other clubs, so having more opportunities to figure out how to combat your own issues is also what I hope for to help people.

 

Why do you deserve to win the pageant?

I don’t think anyone deserves to win it. I think it should be earned, but I also think that whoever wins the pageant should be that voice for people and I also think that they should do their best to be as inclusive as possible, but I think all of our girls were just great and I think all of them would be great Hozhoni ambassadors. I genuinely don’t know how it’s going to go but we’ll see what happens.


 

 
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