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New Miss Navajo Sees Role as Public Servant

Navajo Times - Donovan Quintero
Newly crowned Miss Navajo Shaandiin P. Parrish smiles after being crowned by her predecessor Autumn J. Montoya on Saturday night at the Dean C. Jackson Memorial Arena in Window Rock.

WINDOW ROCK — A few years ago, Shaandiin Parrish was going through a hard transition from her hometown of Kayenta, Arizona to the busy metropolis of Phoenix.

Parrish, 25, was studying political science at Arizona State University.

“I just felt so empty,” Parrish said. “I felt so lost because I was off the reservation and I came home. I just threw myself into community service, going to our Kayenta Township and seeing how I could help out our community.”

This is where she found her love for public service and that is the reason why she decided to run for Miss Navajo Nation.

“That’s when I realized my passion is community service and public service,” Parrish, who is Kinyaa’áanii born for Tódích’íí’nii, said. “I decided this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Then, Parrish changed her major from elementary education to political science. She graduated from Arizona State University last year. Now, she will be serving as the new Miss Navajo Nation for 2019 to 2020.

“I’ve dedicated the rest of my life to public service,” she said. “I believe as Miss Navajo that’s my job: to serve the public.”

This isn’t the first title Parrish has held. She was crowned Miss Indian Arizona 2016-2017 and before that Miss Indian ASU 2013-2014. She is also a recipient of the Gates Millenium Scholarship and the CAP/Udall Scholarship. Parrish was also a page intern for the Arizona State Senate and currently works as Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee’s public information officer.

Over the next year, Parrish has the ambitious goal of visiting all 110 chapters on the Navajo Nation.

“I believe that our goodwill ambassador needs to be in tune with all our chapters across the Navajo Nation,” she said. “My dad is from Dennehotso Chapter and that’s a really small chapter. There are other small chapters that need attention too.”

Her platform is focused on Navajo homes and families to encourage all generations to come together to preserve the Navajo language and culture, “making sure our elders and our children make those connections even though some of our kids might not have grandparents and our grandparents might not have younger children to teach,” she said.

“Our language and our teachings need to be passed on regardless of kinship. We as a people need to come together. I think this year’s pageant really opened a lot of people’s eyes to that.”

Parrish is thankful for everyone she met over the weekend who has been encouraging her to continue learning the Navajo language. She is excited to learn more about her position as Miss Navajo. 

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