The Times podcast: There she is, Miss Navajo Nation...

A seated woman signs a poster outdoors under a tent.
2019 Miss Navajo Nation winner Shaandiin Parrish signs autographs during the 2021 edition of the pageant
(David Kelly/For The Times)

The Miss Navajo Nation pageant has been going on almost every year since the 1950s. It’s not about swimsuits or evening gowns, though. This tradition is all about making sure the culture of the largest Native American tribe in the United States remains alive — and vibrant.


In this episode, you’ll hear from this year’s contestants, judges and the winner. And you’ll get a sense of why the Diné — what Navajos call themselves — place such importance on something nonmembers, at first glance, might dismiss as a mere beauty contest or country fair frivolity.

Host: Gustavo Arellano

Guest: Special correspondent David Kelly

More reading:

A pageant like no other: ‘Can you imagine Miss USA or Miss Universe butchering a sheep?’

Navajo shepherds cling to centuries-old tradition in a land where it refuses to rain

Navajo Nation surpasses Cherokee to become largest tribe in the U.S.

About The Times

“The Times” is made by columnist Gustavo Arellano, senior producers Denise Guerra and Shannon Lin and producer Melissa Kaplan. Our engineer is Mario Diaz. Our editors are Lauren Raab and Shani O. Hilton. Our theme song was composed by Andrew Eapen.