“From the Vault” is our EXCLUSIVE daily peek into the extensive library of WOW shows, interviews, and pop culture ephemera we’ve collected over the last three decades.
Today: In honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we look at the 2007 World of Wonder/Sundance fave Miss Navajo which explores the role of women and tradition in Navajo culture, as experienced through a young girl’s quest for the Miss Navajo Nation crown.
Crystal Frazier, a twenty-one year old Navajo, lives on the reservation in Table Mesa, New Mexico. A tom-boy and former high school basketball champ, the beauty pageant presents a new set of challenges for Crystal as well as the responsibilities that come with the crown. Miss Navajo Nation is a fifty-four year old pageant that celebrates traditional values and language. Contestants must compete in rounds in which the women must showcase their skills as Navajo women, skills they were taught by their mothers and grandmothers, skills that are crucial to Navajo daily life: sheep butchering, fry bread making, and rug weaving are just some of the challenges. Crystal experienced the typical life of a Navajo girl growing up. She understands that the lessons and beliefs taught to her are very important to her and her familys future. For Crystal, the pageant presents an opportunity for her to complete her college education and to continue to pursue her dream of becoming a mechanical engineer. Crystal has rarely faced challenges she cannot win. Crystal will compete in the five-day pageant and will be mentored by her mother and sisters, who will be with her every step of the way. Embarking on this journey with her family she learns more about her culture to prepare for the competition. She is experienced with the ritual of sheep butchering, but requires instruction to fine tune her technique for the judges. When it comes to making the best fry bread in the world, shes more used to eating her grandmothers than preparing her own. Crystals biggest weakness is her grasp of the Navajo language that her father vows to practice with her in the mornings. Through Crystals journey leading up to the competition, former Miss Navajos from the past half-century will share their memories of the pageant. Each crowned queen experienced life on the reservation and also faced the challenges of leadership in the preservation of their society. In sharing their memories of growing up Navajo, each will provide a different perspective on what the pageant meant to them. These stories will be intercut and woven together to provide invaluable background and context for Crystals story. MISS NAVAJO is a celebration of women and tradition in Dine (Navajo) culture explored through one young woman’s quest for the Navajo Nation Crown.
Produced & Directed by: Billy Luther
Co-Producer: Duana C. Bulter
Editor: Mike Rysavy