Crystal Littleben hopes to promote holistic well-being


FARMINGTON — Before winning the title of Miss Navajo Nation in September, Crystal Littleben wanted to develop an activity to promote holistic well-being in communities on the reservation.

Her idea became a reality in February when 75 people in Sanders, Arizona, participated in the first stop for the Miss Navajo Nation 5K Series.

She developed and implemented the free running and walking series as part of her platform, and to demonstrate that physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being can be developed by exercise.

The series will come to Diné College's south campus in Shiprock on Saturday. Registration opens at 6 a.m., and the 5K run and walk start at 7 a.m.

Littleben said she learned as a child about the significance of running in Navajo culture and she remembers waking early as a child to run at her grandparents' home in Arizona.

"It challenges you, too, and that's what I like about it," she said during a telephone interview on Tuesday.

She added she does not stand on the sideline during the event. Rather, she runs with participants, wearing her Miss Navajo Nation sash and her hair tied in a tsiiyéél, a traditional hair bun.

"I encourage everyone to either run or walk with me. I'm not a fast runner, so I'm at my own pace," she said.

With the goal of promoting physical exercise, participants can earn a free T-shirt by running or walking in three or more 5Ks in the series.

"That's my way to encourage participants to come back or to follow me on this series," Littleben said, adding 15 people have received a T-shirt since February.

In observance of Navajo culture, the series is visiting communities in a clockwise direction and made stops in March in Dilkon and Tuba City, both in Arizona.

The series concludes with stops on April 24 in Tsaile, Arizona, and on April 28 in Fort Defiance, Arizona.

The series has received support from the Office of Miss Navajo Nation, the Tséhootsooí Medical Center, the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project, Navajo Nation Shopping Centers Inc. and Diné College.

JT Willie, director of marketing for the Tséhootsooí Medical Center, said in an email the hospital's board has always taken a strong stance on giving back to the people.

"Throughout the past years, it has (been) one of the goals to assist the reigning Miss Navajo Nation in her role of promoting health and wellness," Willie said, adding that role is fulfilled by visiting communities to host fitness events.

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