Geneva Wright became the longest reigning Miss World Eskimo Indian Olympics or Miss WEIO
when last years pageant got cancelled because of the pandemic.
She jokingly calls herself the COVID quip.
Instead of crisscrossing the state wearing her regalia, she hasnt left Tanana, a community of about 240 people for eight months.
The world shut down like overnight.
It was the weekend before festival native arts here in Fairbanks and that was going to be my first event as Miss WEIO, but everything was canceled.
Miss WEIO is not exactly a beauty pageant.
Its a cultural mission.
The talent portion is focused on native skills such as preparing thread from a deer sinew, training a sled dog and traditional dancing.
So Miss WEIO is basically a role model.
She represents understanding and knowledgement about all our different cultures here in Alaska.
For just at the Baskans theres 11 different Athabascan groups all over Alaska and Im from one of them a Koikon Athabascan.
This year the crown went to autumn medicine from Catsebu.
The reigning Miss Arctic Circle who is planning to start studying nursing at the University of Alaska in anchorage.
With my new title I will try to push to be an advocate for indigenous people, educate myself as much as possible.
I would try to push for an Inupiaq knowledge, Inupiaq language knowledge class in our school
because were taught Inupiaq language in elementary school
which is so early on and as you grow older you kind of become forgetful of what youve learned.
For the female athletes participating in the native Olympic games portion of the WEIO event,
competing in traditional sport is a way to reaffirm their identity.
Me? I take it very seriously and I take it deep down to heart
just because whats currently going on right now with the remains that have been found in the Lower 48 with the residential schools.
Thats very sensitive to me.
Native athletes often must get creative when finding space to train.
So Im really happy.
Ive been practicing in my living room and so with my kids all running all around,
so I wasnt quite sure how well I would kick today, but I was able to pull through.
Amber Vasquez who won the first place in the two-foot-high kick is the executive director of tribal government and a mother of two.
I havent learned to sew or I dont know the traditional songs or dances,
but I do know like the history of the games and how to compete in them
and thats something I plan to pass on to the next generation.
Vasquez says that for her WEIO is a way to continue celebrating her tribes culture.
Natasha Mosgova VOA news Fairbanks Alaska