Published April 22, 2016
FLAGSTAFF —Of the 24 strong, young Native-woman contestants in the Miss Indian World competition, the current 2015-16 Miss Hualapai – Jewel Honga (Hualapai and Navajo) is one of the strongest and most accomplished. Through her leadership roles and education, she has become an inspiration for young native women in her home community of Peach Springs and communities across Arizona.
Honga is excited for the opportunity to compete for the prestigious title of Miss Indian World. “Win or lose, I am going to walk away with the friendships of my pageant sisters, new experiences, new networks, and something I can learn from.”
If selected for the title, she will strive to inspire all of the people she meets as she travels the United States and Canada representing the beauty and diversity of Native American, Aboriginal and Indigenous cultures and the Gathering of Nations, Ltd.Powwow.
“Miss Indian World, she’s your sister, she’s your daughter, she’s identifiable by people and she is one of us,” she explained. “You look to her for guidance, for advice, for inspiration and that’s what I think I can do for people. I think I can inspire girls, women, and people of all ages in my role as Miss Indian World.”
In June 2015, Honga was chosen to represent her tribe as Miss Hualapai. She takes her responsibility as a role-model very serious and uses her public figure to educate and talk to the young girls in her community about issues they encounter.
“We talk about things that affect our community such as suicide, self-esteem issues, reputation and credibility, and the transition into high school,” said Honga. “In Peach Springs you either go to border-town high schools, or you go out of state to Indian boarding schools. Many of the girls don’t know what to expect.”
Honga meets with the young women of her community on a weekly basis and wants to develop a strong bond and relationship. She revealed that there had been a recent suicide in her community and that it would most likely be a topic of discussion in their next meeting.
Education is another topic she is passionate about. She hopes to instill the value of education in the Native youth as her parents Charlotte and Waylon instilled in her. This past December, she earned two Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (B.S.B.A.) degrees in Management and Marketing, and a certificate in Promotions and Marketing Communications from The W.A. Franke College of Business of Northern Arizona University (NAU).
During her time at the university, she was very involved in the Native community. She held leadership roles in the Native American Business Organization (NABO) and is the former 2014 Miss Indian NAU, where she strived to promote cultural preservation and bring awareness of economic development through higher education. She was also able to teach Native youth to manage their money responsibly, especially those youth who receive or will receive per-capita payments from their tribe.
“That was my platform,” Honga explained. “During my internship/part-time job, I worked with the Center for American Indian Economic Development. They developed a financial literacy game and we went to different tribal communities, middle schools, high schools, and some colleges.”
Currently, she works in her community at the tribally owned Grand Canyon Resort Corporation where she regularly interacts with the people she represents. She plans to return to school and become only the third member of her community to earn an MBA. She wants to continue to work for her tribe to improve the business model which capitalizes on Grand Canyon tourism.
The Miss Indian World Pageant will be Honga’s fourth pageant; she says she has learned a lot from her past experiences and the friendships made with her pageant sisters.
“I love meeting girls from different tribes who have goals to make things better for their people. They do that by stepping up and taking on roles such as Miss Hualapai or Miss Ak-Chin or Gila River. They often go-on to do great things for their community.”
The Miss Indian World Competition will be held during the week of April 26-30, in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is the largest and most prestigious cultural pageant for young Native Women.