New Miss Utah Navajo takes on bullies

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

BLUFF, Utah, Sept. 19, 2013

Text size: A A A

(Courtesy photo)

It was a duel between two Utah natives for the 2013-2014 Miss Utah Navajo crown Sept. 11.

"It was a real close call," said pageant coordinator Kester Tapaha, but after a few hours of competition a new Miss Utah Navajo was crowned. The 2013-2014 Miss Utah Navajo is Lavina Yellowman, 24, from Montezuma Creek, Utah.

"It was nerve-wracking," Yellowman said.

The first thing that went through her head when she was announced the winner was, "Am I ready for this?"

"I was nervous and most of the people in the crowd I knew," Yellowman added because the competition was held at Whitehorse High School in Montezuma Creek.

Yellowman admits that she didn't really think it was real that she got crowned Miss Utah Navajo until she walked downstairs to her living room the following morning to see her crown and sash.

The pageant had four judges and they were judging the modern and traditional talents, an essay on what the contestants hope to achieve as Miss Utah Navajo, their overall poise, impromptu questions and confidence on stage.

For the traditional talent Yellowman said she sang a song in Navajo, and that performance was the first time she ever sang in public.

For her modern talent she did an educational presentation on bullying because that will be the focus of her platform.

"My platform goes back to bullying, trying to prevent bullying and promote anti-bullying," Yellowman said, adding that she wants to encourage youth to pursue and emphasize the Navajo language as well as live a healthy lifestyle through eating healthy and exercise.

The reason why Yellowman wants to focus on bullying is because when she was younger she was a victim of bullying due to her appearance.

Yellowman grew up with a single parent, her mother. There wasn't a lot of money, so she would get picked on for not having name-brand clothes in school.

"I think it will be a challenge to help change bullying because some people are not willing to change, but it will be worth the try and challenge to take on," Yellowman said.

Yellowman said it was a last-minute decision to try out for Miss Utah Navajo. People she knew encouraged her because being a graduate of Utah State University with a certificate in accounting, many people have told her she is already a role model for kids.

Her confidence bolstered by the kind words, Yellowman said she took a leap of faith and entered the contest.

"I can be a little more on the shy side," Yellowman admitted. "At the end of this I'll probably get over that little hump."

"I'm looking forward to the year and what it has to bring," Yellowman added. This is the first time she has run for a crown since she was in elementary school.

Tapaha said the mission for Miss Utah Navajo is to walk in beauty as a woman as well as be a mentor and role model for the Navajo people.

Fellow pageant coordinator Gabrielle Oldman, who was Miss Utah Navajo in 2010-2011, stresses one thing to the new title holders: "You're Miss Utah Navajo with and without the crown. People will see you no matter what. Even if you're not wearing a crown people will call you Miss Utah Navajo."

Yellowman's fellow contestant was Angelina Billy Whitehorse from Blanding, Utah. Whitehorse was the 2012-2013 Miss Utah Navajo after the former title holder, Cherina Poyer, could no longer fulfill her position.

Since Whitehorse held the title for a little over two months, she was given the chance to compete again this year, Oldman said.

"We're hoping to get more girls involved next year," Tapaha said.

Tapaha said that the Miss Utah Navajo pageant gives the girls the confidence needed to be a public figure.

Being Miss Utah Navajo opens a lot of doors because it not only gives you confidence but it puts the title holder in a position where a lot of people turn to you as a role model, Oldman added.

Yellowman looks forward to a busy year as Miss Utah Navajo and being an ambassador of the Utah Navajos.