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Simpson spoke to the Daily Times about her new title, her Navajo and White Mountain Apache family roots, and her drive to succeed in her new role. Matt Hollinshead/The Daily Times, Wochit

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FARMINGTON — Priya Simpson looks forward to her service as the new Farmington American Indian Ambassador.

The 15-year-old Farmington resident won the title during the June 14 pageant at the Farmington Indian Center.

She first learned about the honor after meeting the 2017-2018 ambassador, Christopher Taylor Benally, at an event.

"From there it started a spark," Simpson said in an interview on June 26.

The primary role of the ambassador is to represent the city and its Native American residents.

She said she looks forward to fulfilling that representation.

Simpson is an enrolled member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe. Her mother is White Mountain Apache and her father is Navajo.

"I know I am a member of the Navajo and the White Mountain Apache. The thing is, it says, 'Farmington Indian Center Ambassador,'" she said about the beaded crown she will wear during her reign.

She added, "It doesn't say, 'Navajo.' It doesn't say, 'Apache.' I just represent the Indian people of Farmington."

Simpson is Bear Clan and the Eagle Clan is her maternal grandfather. In Navajo, she is born for Tódích'íi'nii (Bitter Water Clan) and her parental grandfather clan is Hashtł'ishnii (Mud Clan).

For her reign, she will wear camp dresses, the regalia worn by White Mountain Apache women.

The dress she wore for the competition belongs to her mother. She also wore beaded earrings made by her mother and moccasins from her grandmother.

"I call it a piece of home," Simpson said about the ensemble.

She learned about the White Mountain Apache culture from her mother and she has been enhancing her Navajo language skills from a summer course at San Juan College.

She attends San Juan College High School, where she will be a sophomore in the fall.

Simpson describes herself as "homegrown" since she has lived in Farmington her entire life.

Her parents, Danny and Tammy Simpson, support her endeavors.

"She makes us proud. She's her own little person," Tammy Simpson said in the June 26 interview.

Her mother thinks the ambassador program will enhance her daughter's understanding of public service.

"That's why I believe that she's good to do this because she's very social. She's our little social butterfly. Having her put who she is meet up with this will give her strength for what she wants to become in the future," Tammy Simpson said.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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