November 18th, 2015 Last Updated on: January 20th, 2016
Busy and productive, Miss Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial is a stunning example of true Native Beauty. Powwows, parades and presentations are all part of her life!
DK: You're a true role model! Please tell us about yourself?
KM: Yá’át’ééh, my name is Kahlaya Rose Mckinney. I am born for the Owens valley Paiute Tribe of Bishop, California. My father is Muskogee Creek from Tulsa, Oklahoma. My paternal grandfather is Red Running into Water clan from Beclabito, New Mexico, and, my paternal grandfather is Muskogee Creek, again, from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am nineteen (19) years old. I am majoring in Nursing at San Juan College. I am originally from Beclabito, New Mexico, and I reside in Shiprock, New Mexico. I am told that I am a very outspoken and confident person, and, I totally agree. I love to learn and share new stories and teachings about Native American people.
DK: We are happy that you're sharing with us! We'd love to learn more about you and your people?
KM: My mom is Owens Valley Paiute from Bishop, California. My Owens Valley Paiute people live in a valley between two big mountains, the White Mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountain ranges. We use different types of rocks to build and use in our everyday living. We eat a lot of fish, deer and pine nuts. Every year my family participates in a spiritual walk which begins in the Yosemite Valley and ends on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We also use the sweat lodge as our traditional healing ceremony. We are also deeply involved in the pow-wow circles. My Muscogee Creek people use turtle shells in their traditional stomp dances. I have to admit since my father is no longer here with us I have not learned a whole lot about my Muskogee Creek tradition and culture.
DK: So, what are some of the cultural ways that shape your daily life?
KM: I grew up and was raised on the Navajo Nation. I was taught to get up early with the sun, our father, and pray with our corn pollen as an offering to the Holy People, every morning. As a Dine’ woman, my grandparents taught me the proper way of a Dine’ woman. As Dine’ people we use corn in our everyday lives and our traditional ceremonies. Sheep are also very important to use, we use all parts of the sheep, from the sheep skim to his organs, and nothing is wasted. We pray to our Holy Ones, Haasche’e’e’yalt’I’I’ d’ d’o’o’ Haa’shch’e’e’waan. I am very proud to represent the Northern Navajo Agency, as well as, the entire Navajo Nation.
DK: Wonderful! How important are your tribal traditions to you?
KM: Cultural and traditions are very important, especially now that our traditions and cultural practices seem to be slowly dissipating. One tradition I was taught is to always wear my turquoise jewelry. Turquoise is one of our four sacred stones in the Navajo Nation. Turquoise represents protection, so when you wear your turquoise jewelry, you will always be recognized by the holy people and protected from any evil spirits that may get to you. There are many traditions that I use and practice every day, but for now, I would like to only share with you, one turquoise tradition.
DK: Powwows are precious to us here! Do you participate in powwows?
KM: Yes, I do attend pow-wows. My Owens Valley Paiute family, a northern tribe, practice and are raised in the pow-wow circle. I danced the jingle and northern traditional styles but due to what was going on in my life, at that time, I stopped dancing and have not danced since. I do participate in gourd dance — I love to participate in the Gourd Dance! My family, my friends and I still dance to support each other and to also feel the healing of the drum beat– my family continues to attends pow-wows, across the northern and western states.
DK: Awesome! Do you have a favorite part of powwow life?
KM: Pow-wows are a lifestyle practiced by Native Americans all the time. Pow-wows mean family, to me. You have your pow-wow family, you see at every pow-wow, and we understand each other. There is no hatred, toward each other – in the circle, it is all love and deep respect.
DK: Yes! The circle is a vibrant and vital way of life! And now you have a title that allows you to promote the unity, love and respect that you mentioned every where you go! How does that make you feel?
KM: When I heard my name, I automatically started crying because my heart was filled with happiness.
DK: Oh how lovely! I'm so happy for you! How has this experience changed your life?
KM: My life has changed dramatically. Before this title, I was working, full-time, and going to school, fulltime. Since I won this title I have had to reduce both my work and school time, to part-time, because of how fast and busy my schedule has become. Overall, it has been a very busy and very fun because my heart is being filled with love at every event I attend.
DK: As you attend so many events, are there certain experiences that are dear to your heart?
KM: One experience I hold dear to my heart is my trip to the Pueblo of Zuni fair. The Zuni people were all so nice and welcoming to me, I will never forget that experience. I went on a Saturday afternoon, just before the evening activities were about to begin. We walked the vendor displays along the parade route, the, I walked in the night performance grand entry. We watched the new Miss Zuni being crowned; this was the first Miss Zuni the Pueblo of Zuni had in six years, everyone was so happy to bring this title back into the Pueblo of Zuni. The Zuni people were all so grateful I was there. They informed me that I was only the second Miss Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial Queen to visit their Pueblo; this was very heartwarming to hear. All my travels have been amazing but this trip to the Pueblo of Zuni was one of a kind.
DK: Sounds gorgeous! Thank you for letting us see it through your eyes! Are there any ideas or causes that you are promoting during your reign?
KM: My platform this year is to prevent teen suicide and bullying. I was bullied and suicidal as a young girl. I think people really connect better when you share your personal story with each other. I am currently planning school visits with adolescents to speak with them about teen suicide and bullying, mainly, to share how teens can prevent this huge issue or threat across our tribal reservation.
DK: I'm so sorry that you had to go through such tough times, but I am thankful that you have a platform to help others to move forward through such difficult challenges! What do you plan to accomplish after your reign?
KM: After this reign, I plan on running for the title of Miss Northern Navajo, Miss Indian World, and, then, after, some major learning and practicing, I will run for the title of Miss Navajo Nation. I am not fluent in the Navajo language, so after I get my Associates in Nursing Education, I really want to take a year or two, to completely immerse myself in learning more of the Navajo culture, with my family who live at our traditional home, in Beclabito, New Mexico.
DK: Amazing plans! Since you have such a bright and beautiful future, what do you think is the best advice that helped you along the way?
KM: The best advice I have ever received was always love yourself before anybody else. It may sound a little conceded but you have to love yourself before you can truly love somebody else. A piece of advice I have never followed was to “treat people the way they treat you”. I have experience a lot of criticism in my life, in my time, as an ambassador and some people are straight up rude and mean! But I have always treated people with respect and with a smile on my face — I always “greet the CEO the same way, you greet the janitor.”
DK: Humility comes before honor, so it is refreshing to see you walking in traditional virtues like humility, respect, modesty, hospitality and generosity! Do you see yourself as a role model?
KM: Yes, I feel that I am a role model to other Native American tribes. Especially, to those young ladies and little girls who are not the stereotypical pretty, skinny or smart girl. I am not your prettiest or skinniest or smartest girl out-there but I feel that representing all young women is very important! I hope others learn to always respect one another because, one must remember that, you are no better than the person next to yourself.
DK: Wise words and so much self confidence! Please take a moment to encourage someone who might be thinking about stepping into pageants?
KM: Some advice I would share with an individual who is just starting out in the pageant workd is to always be respectful. Remember, just because you have crown on your head, does not mean people need to meet your every need or desire. Never think you are above or are superior to anyone else. You are a cultural ambassador who represents and shares teachings about your tribe. Lastly, always have fun and be helpful, as much as possible. Before I entered the pageant world, I wish I knew that there are two types of people — one being completely two-faced and the other being so helpful and loving that you feel you have no way to thank them for all their generosity. But I have always notice there are more good people than bad, therefore, I am truly blessed and thankful to all those who people have helped me and continue to help, me and my family.
DK: You are truly gracious and well-spoken! Thank you so much for your time today! Please bless our readers before you go?
KM: Ahééhéé. Thank you for this opportunity to comment on powwows.com Always remember you are an amazing person, you have all your ancestors, your family and your tribe behind you! Always strive for your perfection , hozoho’go na’dedish’da’a’l doo’. You are all beautiful and amazing, dah’ no’shooni’I’. Doesn’t it feel good to be Native?
DK: Great!!! Many thanks for your beautiful words!
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