“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

VIEWS: 1362 July 8, 2022

Salt River Welcomes Incoming 2022-2023 Royalty at Pageant Watch Party 

By Dodie Manuel

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community welcomed new Miss Salt River royalty for 2022-2023 during a virtual pageant. The Miss Salt River Royalty Committee hosted a watch party for the Miss Salt River and Jr. Miss Salt River titles at the SRPMIC Council chambers on June 10. 

Salt River Welcomes Incoming 2022-2023 Royalty at Pageant Watch Party 
SRPMIC members take-in the pre-recorded pageant at the watch party.

This year, two contestants each competed for the Jr. Miss Salt River and Miss Salt River titles during the prerecorded pageant that was aired during the watch party. Competing for Jr. Miss Salt River were Tirsa Reina and Aiyanah Lerma. Competing for Miss Salt River were Nani Reina and Kendra Percy. 

During the course of the pageant, outgoing Miss Salt River Sistine Lewis and Jr. Miss Salt River Robin Ramirez looked back on their experiences holding their respective titles. Their remarks were followed by a farewell performance from Lewis with a “going home” song and bird song led by Ramirez. 

“This past year has been such an eye-opening experience for me, being an ambassador for the Community,” said Lewis. “It pushed me out of my limits. Before, as Jr. Miss, I did not get a whole lot to do, but this time I was pushed to be more outgoing, to get up at any moment and speak at any time.” 

“Throughout this [experience] my favorite thing to do was attending Community events. In the beginning, it was very virtual [and] a lot of drive-thru events during [that] time,” added Lewis. She said it was fun to get to know her fellow Community members with the rest of the Salt River Royalty court. 

“This has been such a fantastic year,” said Ramirez. “I am glad me, Sistine, Riana and Nani were able to go to different events in person, and we have made so many amazing memories together.” 

Salt River Welcomes Incoming 2022-2023 Royalty at Pageant Watch Party 
Parents and family members of the Miss and Jr. Miss Salt River pageant contestants come out to support them, during the watch party on June 10.

She said her time as Jr. Miss Salt River was like a sisterhood with the past and present Miss and Jr. Miss Salt River holders, including royalty from other tribal communities. “I am excited to see where me and the other ladies go, after handing off our titles that we received last year,” said Ramirez. 

During the pageant, the contestants participated in categories for contemporary talent, traditional talent and traditional dress. Each contestant presented in traditional dress, explaining the meaning of their outfits’ designs and styles and how they fit within their idea of cultural preservation. The Miss Salt River contestants were asked impromptu questions on self-reflection, participation in cultural activities, and how to confront challenging situations. 

Near the end of the pageant, the awards were presented for congeniality, modern talent, traditional talent, traditional dress and essay. For Jr. Miss Salt River, Tirsa Reina took home the congeniality, talent and essay awards, while Lerma was recognized in the traditional dress category. For the Miss Salt River contestants, Nani Reina swept the award categories, winning congeniality, modern talent, traditional talent, traditional dress and essay.

With the votes tallied up and ready to present, Aiyanah Lerma was named the new First Attendant to Jr. Miss Salt River and Tirsa Reina was crowned as the new Jr. Miss Salt River. Lerma was awarded First Attendant to Miss Salt River, while Nani Reina was presented the Miss Salt River title and crown. 

Each provided a few remarks on their new titles for the 2022-2023 year and what it meant to them taking part in the pageant. “I am very happy with the position that I got. I would like to thank my family for coming and supporting me and for everybody else that came. I look forward to this year, being around these girls. It’s been amazing so far,” said Lerma. 

In looking toward her reign as the incoming Jr. Miss Salt River, Tirsa Reina said, “I want to thank my family, my sisters, my godmothers and everyone who helped me throughout the pageant. I am very thankful for the support and I am very excited for what this year will bring. I know that what will happen will be very exciting.” 

Percy said, “I feel like me and Nani are going to be really close and already have the same humor. I want to say thank you to everybody and all of you for coming out and supporting us, and I hope you follow our journey throughout the year.” She added that she learned a lot from each of the contestants and felt confident in taking part in the pageant. 

Lastly, Nani Reina spoke on the opportunity to represent the Community as the new 2022-2023 Miss Salt River. “I am very blessed and honored to have this opportunity to represent my home, and I hope to encourage the rest of the ladies through our social media outlet,” said Nani. She added that she looks forward to meeting her fellow Community members at public events as life slowly returns to normal from the pandemic. 

Pacer Reina, the father of contestants Nani and Tirsa Reina, spoke about their interest in representing the Community as Jr. Miss and Miss Salt River. “I should have known it was going to come to this at some point. [S]eeing their older sister run in pageants naturally sparked that interest for them. To hear that they were going to run at the same time [was surprising], especially my younger daughter Tirsa, who [waited] up until maybe a couple of weeks before the pageant’s deadline to turn in the application … she surprised me.”

Salt River Welcomes Incoming 2022-2023 Royalty at Pageant Watch Party 
L-R: 2022-2023 Miss Salt River Nani Reina is congratulated by Miss Gila River 2022-2023 Kelsey Ann Martinez and Jr. MIss Gila River Caiden Lewis, during a receiving line at the conclusion of the watch party.

“I’m just amazed at the job they did, for the way that came out and conducted themselves with grace. The knowledge that they gained from being in the pageant I know is a great feeling for both of my daughters,” said Nellie Silversmith Reina, Tirsa and Nani’s mother.