Miss Indian Arizona Association cancels 2020-2021 program
Gila River Indian News
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected numerous events on the Indian Country calendar including one of Arizona’s most renowned and oldest pageants. The Miss Indian Arizona Association’s (MIAA) Scholarship Program recently announced that their program, scheduled for Oct. 10 at the Chandler Center for the Arts, has been canceled.
Miss Indian Arizona Audriana Mitchell (Colorado River Indian Tribes), First Attendant Amy Spotted Wolf (Tohono O’odham Nation), and Second Attendant Autumn Cooper (Gila River Indian Community) make up the 2019- 2020 court, and typically, their reigns would conclude in October at the next program, which closes out a year of appearances, speaking engagements, parades, and learning experiences.
It was bittersweet for the young women to learn of the program’s cancellation, but the MIAA royalty agreed it was the right decision.
“It was a decision made by the committee, and I agree that it was best to cancel this year’s pageant for the safety of everyone,” said Mitchell.
Cooper, who stated similar sentiments, said, “it was a good decision to cancel this year’s Miss Indian Arizona Scholarship program seeing how Arizona’s spike in positive [COVID-19] cases and wouldn’t want to risk the lives of others.”
As ambassadors, their reign provided ample time to fulfill many activities for the court while representing their home communities.
Mitchell said, “Through my past reign as Miss CRIT, I got to become closer to my community.
When I ran for the title of MIA my only goal was to represent my tribe as best as I could. All of their support has helped me so much, and so I am glad I had the opportunity to represent my tribe at every event I went to.”
Spotted Wolf also mentioned, “When I decided to run for MIA, I had an overwhelming amount of support from back home. I really felt the love! This helped me a lot with my confidence, knowing that others had confidence in me to be a representation of our culture and our people.” The royalty also developed a strong bond during their time together.
Spotted Wolf shared, “I am very appreciative of Audriana because she would always make an effort to include and invite Autumn and me to represent the state of Arizona right by her side.”
There was even a nickname given to them the night they won. Cooper said, “When we were awarded the 2019- 2020 MIA court, one of our sash-siblings gave us the name, ‘the Triple A’s’ for Audriana, Amy, and Autumn, and that’s pretty cool.”
With the chance to extend her term, Mitchell decided not to retain her title for an additional year as Miss Indian Arizona. In a brief statement, Mitchell said, “No one could have predicted that we would have to face a global pandemic that would affect us in many ways. I feel like I have completed what I had initially set out to do when I first ran for this title. Now I would like to give that opportunity to one of my attendants.”
The current first and second attendants are the candidates for the title. Miss Indian Arizona Association Executive Director Denise Homer said, “The decision as to who will take on the title of Miss Indian Arizona 2020-21 will not be made until the August 1 meeting of the Miss Indian Arizona Association (MIAA).”
Although there is uncertainty for the new titleholders, Homer is optimistic for the upcoming program.
“MIAA members are looking at the possibility of a scaled-back program during the 2020-21 season. Fewer public appearances, more social media activity, and most important keeping everyone involved in the Miss Indian Arizona program as safe as possible by wearing masks, staying home, and social distancing,” said Homer.
Until the next court is declared, all three women will continue to pursue their own goals in education and their careers. Mitchell will focus on her education, work and her commitment to Native youth. Spotted Wolf looks forward to student-teaching at the beginning of 2021. Cooper will be completing her general studies and is grateful to be working in the Gila River Indian Community.
For more information visit missindianarizona. com. and search ‘Miss Indian Arizona’ on Facebook.