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FARMINGTON — A Shiprock woman with several pageant wins under her belt added another title to her collection this weekend.

Megan Badonie beat three other contestants to win the 48th Miss Indian New Mexico Pageant on Saturday evening at the Albuquerque Convention Center.

Badonie, who is studying geology at San Juan College, said she was caught off guard when she heard her name announced as the winner.

“It was definitely unexpected,” she said in an interview on Monday. “I was very surprised, and I hope to do a good job representing all 22 (Native American) tribes in New Mexico.”

Badonie also won Miss Northern Navajo Teen in 2011 and Miss Northern Navajo in 2013.

The 21-year-old said her family didn’t push her to participate in pageants. She said she was interested in representing her community and her tribe.

“I realized that maybe I have more to give,” Badonie said.

Saturday’s pageant was different from the Miss Northern Navajo and Miss Northern Navajo Teen events, both of which focus on Diné culture and knowledge.

The Miss Indian New Mexico Pageant consists of several challenges. Contestants are tested on the history and culture of New Mexico and its 22 Native American tribes, and they also perform a traditional and modern talent.

Richelle Montoya, director of the Miss Indian New Mexico pageant organization, said the exam includes identifying every county and tribe in the state. Montoya said this was the first year for the traditional bread contest in which contestants prepared a bread from their tribe or tribes.

Badonie, a 4-H Club member for 15 years, exhibited a chicken and a rabbit as part of the contemporary talent portion of the pageant. She said she would have brought one of her sheep, but she didn’t have a chance to contact convention center staff beforehand.

As Miss Indian New Mexico, Badonie said she is looking forward to reaching out to tribes across the state and encouraging youth to embrace their culture. She added that she hopes the youth learns to treasure their language and culture like she does.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.

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