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Virtual public hearing planned for bill to amend Miss Navajo office, candidacy criteria

Bill would require candidates to prove proficiency in Navajo and English — and that they were born female

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish attends a tribal presidential signing ceremony on Sept. 13, 2019, in Window Rock, Arizona.

FARMINGTON — Modifying the eligibility criteria for Miss Navajo Nation and revising the supporting role of the program's office is the focus of a virtual public hearing this week.

Speaker Seth Damon is sponsoring a bill to amend the program and proposes to eliminate its mission statement and update the program supervisor's responsibilities.

It also seeks to revise candidacy requirements, including contenders being "able to demonstrate fluency in speaking Navajo and English" and be "a female, have always been a female, and biological born a female."

The last time the plan of operation was amended was in 2000, according to the bill.

The first Miss Navajo Nation was crowned in 1952. Since then, her responsibility is to represent the Navajo Nation as a goodwill ambassador through public education about the history, tradition and culture of the Navajo people.

Delegate Daniel E. Tso serves as chairperson of the Health, Education and Human Services Committee, which will conduct the hearing. Invited to participate are the Miss Navajo Council Inc. and the Office of Miss Navajo Nation.

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Tso said in a press release from the Office of the Speaker that the council is responding "to the great need for policies that fit the function and role of Miss Navajo in the 21st century."

Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish receives paper towels from tribal President Jonathan Nez to load in a vehicle during distribution of food and supplies on June 12, 2020, at the Northern Navajo Nation Fairgrounds in Shiprock.

Shaandiin Parrish won the title in September 2019. Her reign was to end a year later but was extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The competition is conducted during the annual Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Arizona. Due to public health emergency orders that prohibit large gatherings, fairs on the tribal land were canceled last year.

Parrish has been helping address the pandemic by distributing food and other items in communities as well as hosting virtual events on Facebook.

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"During this coronavirus pandemic, the Navajo Nation has seen the dedication of our own Miss Navajo Nation go above and beyond the call of duty to be of service to our communities," Tso said.

The hearing will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 18. It will stream online on Vimeo and YouTube under the Navajo Nation Council name and on the council's Facebook page.

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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