Ever since she was a little girl, Shaynalea Mirabal says she wanted to be Miss Indian World.

An avid shawl and hoop-dancer, the now 23-year-old psychology major is finally getting her chance to officially compete for the title at the annual Gathering of Nations Powwow, April 26-28 at the University of New Mexico Arena, aka “The Pit,” in Albuquerque.

The concept for Miss Indian World originated in 1983. “Indigenous young women from all over North America compete for this most prestigious crown,” a press release states. “Miss Indian World is selected by acquiring points in a variety of categories and must be knowledgeable about the tribe(s) and traditions she will be representing. At the end of the five-day competition, the contestant with the highest accumulated points will be crowned Miss Indian World to reign for one year.”

To compete, young women must be Native or Indigenous between 18-25 years old, possess verifiable tribal affiliation, be single, never been married and have no dependents.

We caught up with Shayna, as she is called by her folks, at a fundraising powwow her family arranged Saturday (Feb. 25) at the Taos Pueblo Community Center.

Tempo: When did you decide to do this?

Shayna Mirabal: When I was 7 years old. I’ve been going to powwows for years, to the Gathering of Nations for years with my family.

Tempo: How old are you now?

Mirabal: I’m 23, right now and it’s just always been my dream.

Tempo: What’s the appeal for you?

Mirabal: Mainly to represent my tribe, here in Taos Pueblo. And, I’m also Navajo on my mom’s side but my dad’s from here at Taos Pueblo. Just representing my tribe there would just be an amazing feeling. We have such strong Native religious traditions here.

For more, read the print edition of Tempo inside The Taos News on Thursday (March 1)

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