A dream come true

Two Grey Hills native wins Miss Navajo Nation crown

By Noel Lyn Smith
Navajo Times

WINDOW ROCK, Sept. 16, 2010

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(Special to the Times - Donovan Quintero)

Winifred Bessie Jumbo of Two Grey Hills, N.M. is the 2010-2011 Miss Navajo Nation.

Under the canopy of a white tent, a 22-year-old from Two Grey Hills, N.M., walked away with the title of Miss Navajo Nation 2010-11.

Winifred Bessie Jumbo won the crown Saturday night in front of a large audience at the coronation ceremony at the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise.

"I'm honored and very privileged to be here to serve you as your goodwill ambassador and I'm very excited to go out and represent the Navajo land and the Navajo people," Jumbo said in her acceptance speech.

Jumbo is the daughter of Vida Bessie Frank and the late Freddie Jumbo. She is Naakaii Dine'é (Mexican People Clan), born for Ta'neeszahnii (Tangle Clan). Her maternal grandfather is Hashtl'ishnii (Mud Clan) and her paternal grandfather is Táchii'nii (Red Running into Water Clan).

She has four brothers - Fred, Rico, Wilfred and Aanor.

Like the other contestants, Jumbo had family sitting in the audience.

"Oh! I was so excited that I had to jump," said Lucy Jumbo, Winifred's aunt. "That was her dream. When she was in Head Start, she would say, 'I want to be Miss Navajo.'"

Sharing Lucy's excitement were Winifred's other aunts Marie Jumbo and Virginia Jumbo, her nálí Grace Jumbo, and family friend Vera Brown, all from Two Grey Hills.

"She was really happy that she won," said Marie, translating for Grace, who smiled about her granddaughter's accomplishment.

"She brought it (the crown) back to New Mexico," Brown said.

The family briefly saw Jumbo as she entered a white van that transported her to the Dean C. Jackson Memorial Arena for an appearance after her crowning.

Marla Billey, Miss Navajo Nation 2003-04, has been a family friend since she tied Jumbo's hair during her Kinaaldá.

"I was so proud of her, I knew she has it in her," Billey said.

There were nine contestants this year. First runner-up was Crystalyne Curley of Black Mountain, Ariz.. Second runner-up was Ambra Sue Nez of Leupp, Ariz., and third runner-up was Tanya Lister of Shiprock.

The Miss Congeniality award went to Ginger Rae Nez of Tselani, Ariz., and the Miss Photogenic award went to Lister.

The winner of the best butcher award was Nez. Jumbo also won the best essay award.

In an interview Tuesday, Jumbo said she was proud of the writing honor.

"Throughout my undergraduate years the one thing I was told was that my writing skills are OK but not excellent. That is one thing that I worked on," she said.

In May, she graduated from Brown University with a bachelor's degree in anthropology and ethnic studies.

As Miss Navajo Nation, Jumbo plans to advocate for the preservation and revitalization of the Navajo language and encourage high school students to aim for higher education.

Jumbo decided a focus on language since the learning experience can be challenging as well as rewarding.

"I'm somewhat of a fluent speaker but I'm always learning new terms as I go," she said. "I want to stress to people that it's OK to speak Navajo even if you don't speak it fluently. It's OK to learn Navajo even if its just your introduction or your clans."

She plans to visit as many high schools as possible during her service and share her college experience with students. She would also like to produce a "how to" brochure to explain the application and financial aid processes and other ways students can prepare for college.

"I want to get the word out about how to go about finding a college," she said.

This year's pageant was held in a new location, in a large white tent behind the Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise.

It was moved from the rodeo arena to enhance security, said Dinah Dahozy Wauneka, program supervisor for the Office of Miss Navajo.

"It's mainly for the safety of the girls," she said.

In previous years, Miss Navajo was crowned at the end of Saturday night's performance by a big-name entertainer, which led to a rush of well-wishers crowding into the arena to congratulate her.

"Last year we had the Miss Navajo contestants lose some of their awards and trophies (in the crush)," Wauneka explained. "We also had a hard time getting the contestants out of the arena because of all the vehicles (parked nearby)."

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