By Helena Rodriguez
The new Miss Native American ENMU will use her crown and title to be an ambassador for Eastern New Mexico University’s Native American Club and the school, helping to recruit students.
“I would like to visit Native American reservations and schools and try to influence students to continue their education and tell them about ENMU,” said Dwan Martinez, shortly after earning the crown on Saturday inside the College of Businesses’ Becky Sharp Auditorium. She succeeds Paula Garcia, who won the title last year.
Martinez was formally recognized on Saturday during the ENMU football game against West Texas A&M University.
Following a three-day competition, which began on Thursday, Martinez, a junior criminal justice major, was chosen over four other contestants to represent the school. Martinez’s prize package included a crown, a $250 scholarship, a pair of silver earrings, a handwoven sash and a Pendleton shawl.
Martinez was moved to tears during her a brief acceptance speech, partly because her parents, Wilcox and Nora Martinez, were unable to attend. According to Martinez, a Navajo Indian, her parents are from the Bitterwater people clan who were born from the Meadow people.
While the nontraditional pageant contained similarities to a traditional pageant, with a public speaking, impromptu questions on topics such as Indian gaming, and private interviews with judges, the pageant also contained both contemporary and traditional talent categories and an outfit segment, in which candidates showcased their Native American attire.
Gurena Adeky, the pageant coordinator and director of ENMU’s Native American Affairs, said the second annual Miss Native American ENMU pageant had a two-fold purpose.
“It creates awareness of the Native American culture and gives the women an opportunity to put their knowledge of their culture out there to educate people,” Adeky said.
“It’s also a recruiting thing, where we send out the queen to go to different area schools and reservations to get students motivated to continue on to college.”
During the traditional talent segment Friday night, Martinez explained that her grandfather was a medicine man as well as a sheepherder and had taught her traditional dances and also taught her about basket weaving. For her talent, she read two stories, “The Antelope Woman,” and another by her grandfather.
Another contestant performed a Native American “Corn Dance” while another showed steps of Navajo weaving.
Utahna Livingston was first runner-up and Anth Lynn Spencer was second-runner up in the pageant.