CAITLIN O'HARA

STORIES / Hózhó Pageant

Beauty, Hózhó to the Diné, or Navajo people, symbolizes living in harmony and balance with the Earth, the spirits in the plants and animals, with the sky and with each other. So it’s fitting that the Miss Navajo Nation Pageant is a week-long celebration of the Beauty Way in many aspects of a woman’s life.

“Hózhó is also living the Diné way of life: culture, traditional and language,” 2017-2018 Miss Navajo Nation Crystal Littleben said. “Hózhó represents that overall balance of everything. Negative and positive.”
Inspired by the female deities in Diné teachings, First Woman, White Shell Woman, Changing Woman and Spider Woman, the representative chosen to be Miss Navajo Nation is meant to exemplify the strength and many roles Diné women play in their matrilineal society. They will be a goodwill ambassador, lead initiatives in their communities and help preserve the teachings, language, and culture passed down to them from their mothers, aunties and grandmothers.


In its 65th year, Summer Jake, 25, Autumn Montoya, 21, Kayla Martinez, 23, competed to become Miss Navajo Nation. The three contestants shared that they, like many in their generation, are not fluent in Diné bizaad, Navajo language, which is one of the requirements of the pageant. This is due to forced removal of their parents and grandparents generations from their families and their placement in settler boarding schools where they were forbidden from speaking their language and practicing their traditions. All three contestants pledged that language revitalization was a major goal and part of their platform.

“Our language is strong, it’s healing, it’s sacred and it’s worth preserving for generations to come. I want to become fluent so I can teach my kids and hopefully my grandkids,” Summer Jake said.

During the competition, the contestants demonstrated traditional skills like sheep butchering, preparing traditional foods, tying a tsiiyéeł (traditional hair bun), and answering impromptu questions in both English and Diné bizaad. Contestants also conducted business interviews, performed contemporary talents and presented a platform of how they would use the power of the office to encourage holistic health, promote Diné language and songs, advocate for victims of domestic violence and bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous women.

These photos show just a glimpse of the marathon competition.

After an intense week-long competition, Miss Navajo Nation contestants Summer Jake, right, and Kayla Martinez, left, get ready for in the parish house at the St. Michaels Franciscan Mission in St. Michaels, Arizona before heading over to the the coronatio

After an intense week-long competition, Miss Navajo Nation contestants Summer Jake, right, and Kayla Martinez, left, get ready for in the parish house at the St. Michaels Franciscan Mission in St. Michaels, Arizona before heading over to the the coronation near the capitol of the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

The sun sets on a mesa across from the Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena, which held the Miss Navajo Nation 2018 Pageant, in Ft. Defiance, Arizona on the Navajo Nation on Thursday Sept. 6, 2018.

The sun sets on a mesa across from the Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena, which held the Miss Navajo Nation 2018 Pageant, in Ft. Defiance, Arizona on the Navajo Nation on Thursday Sept. 6, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben performs a traditional song in Diné for students at the St. Michaels Association for Special Education on Friday Sept. 7, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben performs a traditional song in Diné for students at the St. Michaels Association for Special Education on Friday Sept. 7, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben, along with 2018 contestants Summer Jake, Kayla Martinez and Autumn Montoya, tour the St. Michaels Association for Special Education on Friday Sept. 7, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben, along with 2018 contestants Summer Jake, Kayla Martinez and Autumn Montoya, tour the St. Michaels Association for Special Education on Friday Sept. 7, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben, right, along with 2018 contestants Summer Jake, left, and Autumn Montoya, center, wait to be seated at the Diné Restaurant at the Quality Inn in Window Rock, Ariz., the capitol of the Navajo Nation, on Frida

Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben, right, along with 2018 contestants Summer Jake, left, and Autumn Montoya, center, wait to be seated at the Diné Restaurant at the Quality Inn in Window Rock, Ariz., the capitol of the Navajo Nation, on Friday Sept. 7, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation contestants Summer Jake, left, Kayla Martinez, right, and Autumn Montoya, center left, walk in the parade with Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben, center, at the 77th Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Ariz. on the Navajo Na

Miss Navajo Nation contestants Summer Jake, left, Kayla Martinez, right, and Autumn Montoya, center left, walk in the parade with Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben, center, at the 77th Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss White Mountain Apache Queen 2018-19 Zipporah Lupe greets Miss Navajo contestands Summer Jake, left, Kayla Martinez, center right, and Autumn Montoya, right, as they stage for the parade at the 77th Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Ariz. on the Nava

Miss White Mountain Apache Queen 2018-19 Zipporah Lupe greets Miss Navajo contestands Summer Jake, left, Kayla Martinez, center right, and Autumn Montoya, right, as they stage for the parade at the 77th Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben takes a photo with parade-goers  at the 77th Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2017-2018 Crystal Littleben takes a photo with parade-goers at the 77th Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 contestant Summer Jake of Goat Springs, AZ receives a hug during the parade at the 77th Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 contestant Summer Jake of Goat Springs, AZ receives a hug during the parade at the 77th Navajo Nation Fair in Window Rock, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Autumn Montoya of Torreon, NM answers an impromptu question during the contemporary evening wear portion of the pageant at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Thursday Sept. 6,

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Autumn Montoya of Torreon, NM answers an impromptu question during the contemporary evening wear portion of the pageant at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Thursday Sept. 6, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Kayla Martinez of Window Rock, AZ double checks her silver and turquoise belt is aligned over her sash belt before the traditional skills and talent portion of the pageant at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defi

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Kayla Martinez of Window Rock, AZ double checks her silver and turquoise belt is aligned over her sash belt before the traditional skills and talent portion of the pageant at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Friday Sept. 7, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Kayla Martinez of Window Rock, AZ transcribes the song Jesus Loves Me into Diné before performing her traditional talent portion of the pageant at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nat

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Kayla Martinez of Window Rock, AZ transcribes the song Jesus Loves Me into Diné before performing her traditional talent portion of the pageant at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Friday Sept. 7, 2018. Language revitalization is a big part of the history of the pageant.

Miss Navajo Nation contestants, from left, Kayla Martinez, Autumn Montoya, Navajo Nation President Russel Begay, center, 2017-2018 Miss Navajo Crystal Littleben, and contestant Summer Jake, take a photo prior to the coronation ceremony at Bee Hóltzl Fight

Miss Navajo Nation contestants, from left, Kayla Martinez, Autumn Montoya, Navajo Nation President Russel Begay, center, 2017-2018 Miss Navajo Crystal Littleben, and contestant Summer Jake, take a photo prior to the coronation ceremony at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018. The Office of Miss Navajo reports to the Office of the Vice President of the Navajo Nation, making the position a highly coveted leadership and ambassador role.

Autumn Montoya, left, waves to someone in the crowd as she stands backstage with fellow Miss Navajo contestants Summer Jake, center, and Kayla Martinez, right,  during the traditional skills and talent portion of the pageant at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts

Autumn Montoya, left, waves to someone in the crowd as she stands backstage with fellow Miss Navajo contestants Summer Jake, center, and Kayla Martinez, right, during the traditional skills and talent portion of the pageant at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Friday Sept. 7, 2018.

Newly-crowned Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 Autumn Montoya, left, has her sash pinned on by outgoing Miss Navajo Nation Crystal Littleben, right, during the coronation ceremony at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo N

Newly-crowned Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 Autumn Montoya, left, has her sash pinned on by outgoing Miss Navajo Nation Crystal Littleben, right, during the coronation ceremony at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018. Montoya is the first Miss Navajo in ten years from the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation and proudly represents their unique stories, tradition and dialect.

Newly-crowned Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 Autumn Montoya, right, hugs 2018-2019 Miss Indian World Taylor Susan, left, after the coronation ceremony at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8,

Newly-crowned Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 Autumn Montoya, right, hugs 2018-2019 Miss Indian World Taylor Susan, left, after the coronation ceremony at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018. Montoya and Susan competed together at the Miss Indian World pageant at the 2018 Gathering of Nations.

Newly-crowned Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 Autumn Montoya, left, as contestant Kayla Martinez, right, is comforted by volunteer Lyn Thomas after the coronation ceremony at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation o

Newly-crowned Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 Autumn Montoya, left, as contestant Kayla Martinez, right, is comforted by volunteer Lyn Thomas after the coronation ceremony at Bee Hóltzl Fighting Scouts Event Arena in Ft. Defiance, Arizona the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Summer Jake, 25, of Goat Springs, AZ, stands for a portrait after the parade in St. Michaels, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Summer Jake, 25, of Goat Springs, AZ, stands for a portrait after the parade in St. Michaels, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Kayla Martinez, 25, of Window Rock, AZ, sits for a portrait after the parade in St. Michaels, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation contestant Kayla Martinez, 25, of Window Rock, AZ, sits for a portrait after the parade in St. Michaels, Ariz. on the Navajo Nation on Saturday Sept. 8, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 Autumn Montoya sits for a portrait the morning after her coronation in St. Michaels on the Navajo Nation on Sunday Sept. 9, 2018.

Miss Navajo Nation 2018-2019 Autumn Montoya sits for a portrait the morning after her coronation in St. Michaels on the Navajo Nation on Sunday Sept. 9, 2018.

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