a person who accepts challenges, who shows or has shown great vigor,
courage and strength, respect for themselves and for their culture.
Angelito Alvarez and Draco Geronimo fit
the description of Iipaa kwanamii a warrior.
The boys recently accepted the challenge
of representing their schools, community and families as warriors,
committing themselves to being good role models to their peers in
the San Pasqual Valley Unified School District.
They earned this honor by participating
in a competition that also resulted in the crowning of the newest
Miss San Pasqual Native Princesses. Brittany Miguel was crowned
as the High School Princess, while Ramona Emerson was chosen as
the Middle School Princess.
While the Miss San Pasqual pageant is
a longtime tradition, choosing warriors is something new.
We added the boys two years ago
at the high school level and at the middle school this year,
said Faron Owl, faculty adviser for the student group Strong Hearts
We did it with the idea of creating
good role models, Owl explained. At this point, it's
critical not just important but critical to have good
examples other kids can follow.
We're losing our language. Every
time there are less elders that speak it. That's why it's important
to get kids doing tradition.
The stated mission of the warriors is
to be an example to youth, to speak of the importance of learning
the culture and carrying on traditions, able to sing and dance to
traditional songs, be a positive role model and give assistance
whenever asked to the students of San Pasqual and the surrounding
Alvarez, a San Pasqual High School junior,
and eighth-grader Geronimo are both members of the Quechan Indian
Tribe. Owl said both have shown great respect for the culture and
traditions of the Quechan people.
Geronimo marks the first-ever warrior
representing the middle school, and Alvarez became the second warrior
chosen to represent the high school.
The first was Taylor Thomas, the son of
Timothy Thomas and Gina Pina, who was selected last year to represent
the high school as a warrior.
Angelito Alvarez, the son of Adina Chaipos
Alvarez and Leo Alvarez, said he happily accepts his new role.
I like our traditions, our songs,
and I want to be a role model to our younger kids so our traditions
will still be around when I'm older, Alvarez told the Yuma
He said he believes good role models are
needed. Kids don't just want to be told what to do. They want
someone to look up to, and I want to be like that.
Offering himself up as a role model will
also help keep him out of trouble, Alvarez said. I'm a ball
of energy, so sometimes I have to remember to calm myself down.
Draco Geronimo, the son of Michelle Geronimo
and Stergis Torres, also feels good pressure as a warrior
to do what's right.
It feels good that I'm the first
(in the middle school). There's a little pressure not to mess around
and to set an example to the little kids.
Geronimo has always been interested in
learning about his culture and traditional songs and dances.
I'm already into it. As a singer,
I already go to all the events. Kids are interested, but it's still
good to keep it going even more.
High School Princess Brittany Miguel is
a senior at San Pasqual High School and the only child of Patricia
To be selected, Miguel said, she showed
her knowledge of the tribe's history, shared her family's history
and described her talent and traditional dress, which her aunt Joslyn
It's a diamond dress. It's for celebration,
Miguel told the Yuma Sun.
For the talent portion, she danced four
She competed in the pageant to show
people what I know about my tribe and to be able to meet new people
and learn new things. She said she looks forward to attending
powwows and social events and helping out in the community.
Not many people want to know about
tribal traditions. I'm one of a few people interested, she
added, noting that she wants to teach them to younger kids. It's
really important to know it because when they're older, they can
teach it to their kids.
Miguel names her great-grandmother Lavina
Kelly as one of the people who have most influenced her. She was
in a car accident that claimed the lives of her great-grandmother
and a cousin. Miguel's leg was broken.
She said her great-grandmother would
always play traditional songs and be there for me. She helped me
learn songs and taught me to dance.
She also credits her mother and her great-aunt
Caroljean Miguel for being there for me and supporting me
throughout my entire life.
She doesn't forget her best friend Tomas
Jefferson, a really good supporter who always believed in
me. If it wasnt for him, I wouldn't have run. He believed
I could do it, and he was right, she said, smiling. I
really want to thank him for that.
She plans to attend Arizona Western College
then transfer to a university to continue her studies in music and
Middle School Princess Ramona Emerson,
an eighth-grade student, is the daughter of Christopher Emerson
Sr. and the late Tina Shields.
She competed in the pageant because I
wanted to travel to places and meet people. I like dancing, and
I also wanted to represent my school. It made me really happy and
glad that I was chosen for this.
In her role as a princess, Emerson hopes
to make others aware of our culture so it won't die out.
For her talent, she danced in a dress
made by her uncle Arlie Emerson.
Elementary Princess Teresa Valenzuela
is a fifth-grade student and the daughter of Eileen and Eddie Valenzuela.
For the talent portion, she danced a bird
and ah-keel songs, which she pointed out is a harvest dance.
She wanted to be a princess so I
can represent my school and be a role model, noting that she,
too, hopes to inspire other young people and set a good example,
especially when it comes to the Quechan traditions.
If they see me dancing, maybe they'll
want to start doing it, too.