by K.J. Lincoln
Regina Pingayak-Simon of Chevak is the new Miss Cama-i for 2017. She was crowned on Saturday night during the Cama-i Festival after a day of cultural pageantry. Passing on the title was Olivia Piiyuuk Shields of Toksook Bay.
First runner up was Tyra Carl of Tuntutuliak and second runner up was Alicia Oscar of Bethel. The contestants voted amongst themselves for Miss Congeniality, which was awarded to Victoria Sosa of Bethel.
Each contestant was given a framed photograph courtesy of Nili Sundown. Sundown held a photo shoot session with each of the girls on Saturday after their interviews. They also received gift bags and a bouquet of flowers.
Simon is the daughter of Valerie Pingayak. She is a student at Mt. Edgecumbe High School.
The 2017 Miss Cama-i Cultural Pageant is the 6th annual cultural pageant under the new system consisting of 3 judges and a scored matrix. Contestants must be at least 1/8 degree Alaskan Native or a member of a recognized Alaskan, American or Canadian Indian, Aleut, or Eskimo tribe. They must be eighteen (18) years of age and less than twenty-four (24) years of age throughout the pageant, never been married or have had any children and has acknowledged, accepted, or signed a sobriety and drug-free pledge.
Ladies are evaluated on a personal essay, a personal interview, interaction with elders and the public, and a personal introduction in front of the Cama-i audience. Miss Cama-i moves on to participate in the WEIO pageant in Fairbanks in late July. AFN is often a visit of Miss Cama-i as well. The committee consists of John and Kelsey Wallace, Megan Leary, and former Miss Cama-i’s.
Shields gave a summary of all her travels and accomplishments as Miss Cama-i 2016 as she bid farewell to the Cama-i crowd on Saturday night.
“Kenkurluki ilaput pugtatatekluta. Kenka cakneq elpeknarquq. Cingumatuavkut maavet tekicugngavkarluta mat’umun ernermun,” she said. “Let us love one another, let us hold each other in high esteem equally. We can feel your love and support. You have helped us, we could not have reached this day without you.”
The Cama-i Pageant Committee also presented wooden gift bowls to Peter Atchak for his support and to Andrew Flagg of Yute Air for his efforts in helping Miss Cama-i travel to villages throughout the YK region.
Pingayak-Simon said words of thanks.
“My family encouraged me,” she said. “I want to thank them. I wouldn’t be here without them.
The Pageant is sponsored by the following businesses and organizations:
Bethel Council on the Arts, Alaska Technologies, Veteran’s of Foreign Wars, Post 10041, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Yuut Elitnaurviat, Bethel Community Services Foundation, Bethel Alaska PC, Nili’s Photo Arts, First Alaskan’s Institute, Malone Insurance Agency, Ravn Airlines, Yute Air, and Alessa Poe.