Price: $310.00

    Code: 2282

    Directed by Billy Luther
    2007, 60 minutes
    Purchase: $310/ Classroom Rental: $125

    A 2009 "Notable Video for Adults" as selected by the American Library Association

    For most of us, pageants conjure up smiling beauty-queen hopefuls parading around in bathing suits or glittery gowns. But most of us have never witnessed the Miss Navajo Nation competition. Inaugurated in 1952, this unique competition redefines "pageant" as an opportunity for young women to honor and strengthen Navajo culture.

    Directed by Billy Luther, whose own mother was crowned Miss Navajo 1966, the film reveals the inner beauty of the young women who compete in this celebration of womanhood. Not only must contestants exhibit poise and grace as those in typical pageants, they must also answer tough questions in Navajo and demonstrate proficiency in skills essential to daily tribal life: fry-bread making, rug weaving and sheep butchering.

    Miss Navajo follows the path of 21-year-old Crystal Frazier, a not-so-fluent Navajo speaker and self-professed introvert, as she undertakes the challenges of the pageant. It is through Crystal's quiet perseverance that we see the strength and power of Navajo womanhood revealed. No matter who takes the crown, this is a journey that will forever change her life. Interspersed with pageant activities are interviews with former Miss Navajos, whose cheerful recollections of past pageants break the tension the current contestants are undergoing.

    As winners of the pageant, these women are challenged to take on greater responsibility, and their memories provide a glimpse into the varying roles Miss Navajo is called upon to perform: role model, teacher, advisor, and Goodwill Ambassador to the community and the world at large.

    This wonderful not-to-be-missed documentary reveals the importance of cultural preservation, the role of women in continuing dying traditions and the surprising role that a beauty pageant can play.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * World Premiere, Sundance Film Festival, 2007
    * Winner, Special Founders Prize, Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, 2007
    * Winner, Best Indigenous Film, Santa Fe Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Screening, National Museum of the American Indian, 2007
    * Official Selection, True/False Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Selection, Rome International Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Selection, Los Angeles Film Festival, 2007
    * Official Selection, Calgary International Film Festival, 2007


    "An engaging documentary… Viewers will hear inspiring stories about the amazing resiliency of Navajo culture from earlier winners, who recall the miseries of being forcibly assimilated into mainstream American culture, yet also proudly point to the survival of a vibrant traditional culture and cherish their roles as goodwill ambassadors for their people. An interesting portrait of a decidedly different pageant – plus-sized women compete right alongside the petite - Miss Navajo is recommended.” - Video Librarian

    "A beautifully crafted documentary… Tremendously moving…. An excellent resource. I would highly recommend the use of Miss Navajo as a documentary in many classroom settings, for example in Anthropology, Native American studies, and film and documentary courses. Its coverage of issues such as gender roles in the Navajo Nation, cultural knowledge, the importance of Native languages, and the political aspects of the Miss Navajo pageant…make it relevant for courses in women’s and gender studies, visual anthropology, performance studies, and any courses focused on multicultural studies.” – Transformations: A Journal of Inclusive Scholarship and Pedagogy

    “An engaging and insightful documentary. The skillfully edited program (including footage of former pageant winners) builds suspense as the women await the announcement of the winner…. The film offers a firsthand, intriguing look at a Navajo tradition, showing how the pageant helped (contestant) Frasier gain much-needed confidence.” - Booklist

    “An evocative and beautifully shot and edited documentary. I rooted for all of the contestants, and wanted all of them to get first place. While they all couldn’t, of course, Miss Navajo definitely emerges a winner. The insight into the matriarchal Navajo, made up of about 250,000 people in this country, making it the largest tribe, is fascinating. Highly recommended.” – Educational Media Reviews Online

    Miss Navajo is an engaging documentary… could be useful for stimulating classroom discussions about intersectionality, collective and personal empowerment, cultural policing, and the hybridization of rites of passage, as well as issues of cultural re-representation, ritual, gender normativity, the gaze, objectification, and the public appraisals of women’s bodies, behaviors, and aspirations.” - Films for the Feminist Classroom

    “Funny, moving... [an] inspiring film about a little pageant on the Navajo Nation.” – Michael Moore

    "An intimate and touching portrait of the Miss Navajo Nation competition.” - Indiewire

    "Eye opening... Inspiring… spectacular cinematography! An affectionate look at tribal tradition, pride and change.” – Variety

    "For those interested in United States history, Native American cultures and customs, and a different take on the beauty pageant ideal…. It’s filled with interesting information both about Navajo traditions and current issues that affect the group.” - Feminist Review

    "If Donald Trump wants to revamp his Miss USA pageant, he might check out Miss Navajo.” – New York Daily News