Albuquerque Journal
Kansas Begaye of Rio Rancho was crowned Miss Indian World at the Annual Gathering of Nations pow wow in 2013

Miss Indian World 2014: Changing Their Lives, Changing the World

Christina Rose

 She said, “I told them it’s really possible. I got my bachelors degree, but I wasn’t an honor roll student and I still got through it. So many kids said, ‘Well, how I can I ever be an educator,’ or ‘Oh, I am not smart enough, I am not college material.’ If you have the motivation to do it, you can do it,” Begaye said.

Danielle Finn, 23, Standing Rock, South Dakota, said she entered the competition with the hopes of bringing some positive recognition back to the people at home. She said the tribe had faced a hard year with propane problems, unexpected deaths, and more. Remembering the struggles she faced as a teen, she said, “Kids need someone to look up to. I walked through the same halls they did,” she said.

As someone who has already worked with students, contestant Nellie Northway, 25, Naaltstiin Athabascan of Northway Village, Alaska, said that she often speaks out against drugs and alcohol in her area. If she wins the title, Northway said she would have an even greater outreach.

“I would push the youth to finish school, go to college, invest in their future,” Northway said. “When I was growing up my teachers told me to drop-out everyday, that I would only be a statistic.  The kids don't have enough encouragement to do their best, and I still push to do my best. School is the key to a better future.”

Besides promoting her platform, nominees for the title of Miss Indian World must be able to represent their culture. Northway looks back at her grandparents’ experiences and recognizes how much it has taught her. She credits her grandparents with teaching her how to live off the land, from gathering food in the summer to tanning moose hide. 


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