Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Shannon Saltclah stood proud on Thursday night with her new crown sitting atop her head as the new Miss Native American Queen for the 2005-06 school year.
Saltclah, a junior at Eastern New Mexico University, was selected as the new queen in front of a crowd in the Zia Room in the Campus Union Building.
“I’m representing the Native Americans at Eastern and letting everyone know about our culture and trying to keep it alive,” Saltclah, who is a Navajo, said.
Saltclah said one of the battles her people are facing are sovereignty and control of their land, instead of the government having control of their reservation. She said Native Americans are battling with the government to allow gaming on reservations.
“I believe it should be up to the people on the reservation whether they should have casinos or not,” Saltclah said. “The Navajo reservation should be making that determination and how to regulate their land.”
Saltclah graduated from Piedra Vista High School in Farmington and is majoring in Biology and she said she plans to attend the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and go into pharmacy school. She said her parents taught her to be proud of who you are and don’t forget your roots.
Saltclah replaced Dailauna Robertson who was Miss Native American Queen for the 2004-05 school year. Robertson said during her tenure as Miss Native American Queen she visited high schools both on and off of the Navajo reservation.
Robertson said she spent time at the high schools recruiting Native Americans to attend ENMU and letting students know that there are scholarships and opportunities at ENMU for high school students.
“I wanted to attend ENMU because it’s not a huge college,” Robertson said. “ENMU is a small college and you can be one-on-one with your teachers. The Navajo nation is stressing how important it is to get an education and Eastern is a good place for Native Americans.”
Mike Jump, guest speaker, encouraged Native Americans to be proud of their culture and not to lose their language. Jump spent some time helping the Navajo tribe in Gallup and helping out other tribes in Ohio. Jump is currently an ENMU student.
“I’ve learned a lot of things from the Native Americans,” Jump said. “They’re regular people like you and me. They have goals, dreams, a sense of humor and problems like us.”
He said one of the problems he saw for Native Americans was generations losing the Native American language.
“I see a number of people losing their language and it bothers me,” Jump said. “I want you to make an effort to keep your language.”