Farmington — When Kansas Begaye won the Miss Indian World 2013-14 title in April, she looked forward to visiting the indigenous nations and cultures of North America.
Begaye recently traveled to meet leaders and members of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
"The people there were very welcoming, especially the tribal leaders," she said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
During her Oct. 17 to 20 visit she attended the annual Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations powwow, where she watched the raising of the treaty and Metis Nation of Ontario flags.
This was the first time the Metis Nation flag was raised at the powwow.
"I thought it was so empowering to see the raising of the flag," she said.
She also visited Oskayak High School, an all-Indian school, in Saskatoon and talked to students about the importance of higher education and preventing teenage pregnancy.
While there Begaye learned about the high dropout rate for First Nations high school students, which she said was alarming.
She learned that two years ago there were only three students who graduated and last year there were 12.
The increase may be small but it is important, she said.
In addition to her presentation, she fielded questions from students, who asked her about New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.
The students were surprised to find out that it snows in New Mexico, she said.
One aspect that she found interesting during the trip was the currency issued by the First Nations.
"It was interesting. I had to learn their money," she said.
Begaye is originally from Waterflow but now lives in Rio Rancho and works in Albuquerque.
She earned a bachelor's degree with a major in Native American studies and a minor in women's studies from the University of New Mexico in 2011.
This is the latest in a series of appearances that Begaye had scheduled as Miss Indian World.
Today she will be in Flagstaff, visiting classes at Northern Arizona University to talk about Native women and empowerment issues.
She will also travel to Bacone College in Muskogee, Okla. in early November.
Last month, she served as the honorary grand marshal for the Northern Navajo Nation Fair parade.
"It was a welcoming home for me," she said.Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.