Starting Thursday, Lawrence’s Elena Diaz will be competing to be the voice of a nation.
Make that several nations.
Diaz, 19, a student at Haskell Indian Nations University, will be one of 26 contestants competing in this year’s Miss Indian World Pageant in Albuquerque, N.M.
The event takes place at the 26th annual Gathering of Nations, a prominent Native American powwow.
“The Miss Indian World title is one of the most prestigious honors in the Native American and indigenous world,” says Derek Mathews, the powwow’s organizer. “The winner bring together native and indigenous people throughout North America by providing a cultural link between tribes.”
Diaz, who is a member of the Comanche and Apache tribes, will be judged in the areas of tribal knowledge, dancing ability and personality. The 2008 Lawrence High School graduate believes she has what it takes to be crowned Miss Indian World when the competition comes to an end on Saturday night. She says living in a community such as Lawrence has set her up to feel she can represent a diverse group of people.
“I think I have a good understanding of what it means to be Miss Indian World,” she says, citing Lawrence as a destination for many different types of people. “I know a lot of people say this, but I think I have a lot to offer.”