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FARMINGTON — Participating in the Miss Indian World competition has been an interest for Sharona Eskeets.

"It's a title that I respect a lot," Eskeets said about vying for the crown.

The 25-year-old was raised in Bloomfield and is now a senior at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

The choice for Miss Indian World is revealed during the annual Gathering of Nations Powwow in Albuquerque.

This year, the pageant will start April 27 at the Kiva Auditorium and the winner will be named on April 29 during the Gathering of Nations Powwow at Tingley Coliseum.

Melonie Mathews, pageant coordinator, said in a statement Miss Indian World is one of the most prestigious honors in the Native American and indigenous world and the titleholder serves as a role model.

"She will travel the world, educating others about important tribal and cultural traditions while bringing together native indigenous people," Mathews said.

Eskeets is among 24 contestants who are members of tribal nations, Alaska Natives and First Nations in the United States and Canada.

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Contestants will compete in the areas of traditional talent presentations, public speaking and dance, personal interviews and by writing an essay, according to the Miss Indian World Facebook page.

Eskeets said she qualifies for the crown because she has shared her native culture throughout the world as a member of the university's Living Legends, a performance group that showcases dance and music from Latin American, Native American and Polynesian cultures.

"After sharing my native culture all over the world, this is something I wanted to do," she said.

Two topics she would like to address if she wins the title are substance abuse and health with a focus on diabetes.

She would like to see tribes continue to establish programs that handle substance abuse and she would like to see native communities encourage healthier lifestyles.

Other contestants in the competition from the Navajo Nation are Valentina Blackhorse from Kayenta, Ariz. and Debra Apodaca from Flagstaff, Ariz.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636.

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