Miss Navajo Nation 2008-09 Yolanda Tso is Crowned
Yolanda Charley, 20, is crowned as the new Miss Navajo Nation by outgoing Miss Navajo Jonathea Tso on Saturday night at Dean C. Jackson Memorial Arena in Window Rock.
Three years of practice pays off
By Candace Begody
WINDOW ROCK, Sept. 7, 2008
It's a dream her grandmother spoke of and encouraged but never lived to see.
"It's what she always wanted," said Yolanda Charley, the newly crowned Miss Navajo Nation 2008-09, of her late grandmother. "She used to cut out photos of the new Miss Navajos and told me that I could be it someday."
The 20-year-old Charley was announced as the 57th Miss Navajo Nation after Grandma Thomas ran to the middle of the rodeo arena, after that arena dust settled from the Apache crown dancers and after that vibrant wave swept across the capacity crowd Saturday night during the coronation at the 62 annual Navajo Nation Fair.
Charley, of the Water Edge Clan and born for the Towering House Clan, is the daughter of Glenn and Clara Kehoe of Twin Falls, Idaho. Her grandparents are the late Matilda Wilson and John Wilson.
She graduated from Gallup High in 2006 and had since been caring for her grandfather in Chichchiltah, N.M.
"I put college on hold because I didn't want to leave him alone," she said of her grandfather. "I needed to help the person who took care of my grandmother and keep him company."
Contestants endured a grueling week of events - a 45-minute, 18-question interview by former Miss Navajos to test their traditional knowledge, a butchering contest to test their cooking skills, and a showcase of contemporary and traditional skills.
Questions from the panel, which Charley admitted was "intimidating," about the Navajo wedding basket to the Navajo emergence story to the female deities required responses - all in Navajo.
Charley said she answered confidently.
In the butchering contest, she worked alone for the first time and the past three years of practice paid off because she was even named the "best butcherer," above the three other contestants.
Her skills included a "big science-like project" in which Charley spoke on the causes and effects of methamphetamine use on the reservation for her contemporary skill and presented five charcoal and pencil drawings to fulfill the traditional requirement.
Charley, whose Miss Eastern Navajo reign ended in July, intends to continue outgoing Miss Navajo Nation Jonathea Tso's work to raise funds for the Special Olympics.
She has held three princess titles in the past:
Miss Chi-Chil-Tah 2001-2002
Tse-Ya-Toh Veterans Princess 2005-2006
Miss Eastern Navajo 2007-2008
Hello and Greetings to all of you reading this. My name is Yolanda
J. Charley my clan is Water Edge (TaBaaha), born for the Towering House (kinyaa’aanii) people, maternal grandfathers are the Red Bottom People (Tl’aashehi’i), and paternal Grandfathers are the Mexican people (Naakai Dine’e). I am 19 years old. My parents are Glenn and Clara Kehoe whom reside in Twin Falls, ID. My grandparents are the late Matilda Wilson and John Wilson. I am currently residing with my uncle Samuel Wilson. I reside 35 miles south of Gallup. I am the current reigning Miss Eastern Navajo 2007-2008. My reason for being Miss Eastern is because it was a promise I made to my grandmother before she died. She wanted this crown for me as much as I did. This year has been a long road and I won’t lie that it is difficult. But I am learning. This year my goal is to help the youth relearn our dine’ language. I don’t want us to forget our language. That is why if one child learned Navajo this year in each community I would be so happy. That is why I encourage you parents and grandparents teach the little things you learned from your parents or elders and teach it to children. My grandmother raised me since I was about the age of 5 years old and she made into who I am. She taught me a lot about our culture and Navajo stories. From the things she’s taught me about my culture, it is my teaching today. I share her words of wisdom and her love. From her I learn to give and not receive. I maybe only nineteen, but I really now how to Wow a crowd. Just kidding. But I am still learning. I have a lot to learn. We all do. So I would like to say thank you everyone for being do kind when I meet you. Thank you for share your kind words with me. Thank you for showing a lot of love. Thank you to all of you who greet me along my travels. May you all walk in beauty and follow the correct path of life. May god bless you all. Also thank you to our young men and women overseas. Thank you for all you do to protect our country. I hope that one day all of our prayers will come true and each of you will return to our homeland back home to your love ones. Thank you again every one.