Interview by Dr. Dawn Karima, Contributing Editor
Q) So nice to meet you! Will you introduce yourself to us, please?
A) Ya’ah’teeh’! Greetings! My name is Kansas K. Begaye and I am of the Dine’ Nation (Navajo Nation) and I am from Waterflow, NM. My clans are the Red Bottom Clan, born for the Many Hogans Clan. My parents are Leonard and Dorothy Begaye. I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters. I graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts degree with an emphasis in Native American studies and with a minor in Women’s Studies. I currently work for the New Mexico Dental Association.
Q) What do you want us to know about you?
A) I have recorded 4 albums and two of which have been nominated at the Native American Music Awards, one for Best Female Recording Artist of the Year and the other for Best Independent Album of the Year. I was award with the “Rising Star Award”. I have previously held past titles such as Miss Tse’Daa’Kaan’ (Hogback Chapter), Miss Northern Navajo Teen, Miss Indian Teen World. I have always striven to accomplish my goals and aspired to be a great role model to my people.
Q) Culture and tradition is so important! What are some ways that you incorporate your tribal lifeways into your life?
A) I incorporate my traditional values and teachings in my life everyday by spirituality and by speaking my language. I feel it is imperative to being an Indigenous person to always hold your cultural teachings close to you. The wonderful teachings our grandparents give us is sacred to the way we live. I sing songs that reflect on my culture. I strive everyday to learn something new about my culture and language. I will sometimes wake up very early before the sun comes up and take out my Taada’diin (Corn Pollen) and say a prayer towards all the four sacred directions. This is what makes me a strong Native woman and I honor my family and people by doing this. These teachings and prayers have shaped who I am today and make me a humble individual.
Q) What was it like when you heard the announcement that you won ( Miss Indian World Title)? Has your life changed since then? If so, how?
A) It was the most wonderful and emotional point in my life that I will never forget. I was bestowed upon with an honor to represent our Indigenous people in a humble and honorable way. This experience has changed my life in many ways. I have made wonderful new friends and met new family members that I will always cherish. I also got the opportunity during the pageant to meet wonderful new sisters, my 18 sisters who all ran for the title as Miss Indian World. I still talk to them today and we give each other encouragement when it is needed. I am so proud to represent them as well.
Q) What are some of the issues you are promoting during your reign? What is your platform? What has been a highlight of your reign so far?
A) I wanted to promote higher education and cultural preservation. I received my bachelors degree and decided to inspire others to do the same. I feel that we need more Indigenous doctors, dentists, lawyers, and educated leaders. The education also needs to be balanced out with cultural values and traditions. The beautiful unique parts of us that are, Native are the parts that stand out and we need to highlight these gifts.
Q) What’s next after your reign?
A) I plan on continuing on with my education and getting my Masters degree and Ph.D. I would like to keep inspiring my people by showing them positive things. I may also record a few more albums and look forward to possibly getting a GRAMMY one of these days.
Q) What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A) To surround yourself with beauty. You, surround yourself with positive people and always be proud of who you are. Continue to believe in yourself and never give up on your dreams.
Q) What advice would you give someone just starting out in pageants and/or powwows?
A) You need to be ready to inspire your people. Be honest with yourself and know who you are. If you are true to yourself and are ready to make changes for your people then make it happen.
Q)Anything else you’d like to share with us?
A)Please don’t drink and drive. Always remember your elders check on them every once in awhile especially in the winter months.
Also please join me for the 31st Annual International World Celebration the “Gathering of Nations Powwow” April 24-26, 2014 in Albuquerque, NM. See you there!Thank you! Ahe’hee’!
Dr. Dawn Karima is a Native American Music Award Winner for her CD, THE DESIRE OF NATIONS (www.cdbaby.com/honeydawnkarima).