By Mara Knaub
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.
I just find it interesting to see a tribe adopting Native stereotypes as their own. Native men are warriors, Native women are princesses. Native men are tough and macho, Native women are sweet and ladylike. Native men are from Mars, Native women are from Venus. Etc.
How about having princes and princesses, since they're equally foreign to Native cultures? If a princess represents something good and admirable, why doesn't a prince? Apparently princes are too effeminate for Natives, which suggests what's wrong with the whole beauty pageant concept.
Or how about warriors and warrioresses? Or just plain unisex warriors? Can't women be warriors in modern Native cultures? I guess not. As in male-dominated cultures everywhere, they're too busy being pretty and servile to lead or fight.
One probably could write a book on how treating (Native) women as princesses leads to abuse and violence. It's a fine example of how stereotypical perceptions cause real-world harm. We tell ourselves that men are strong and women are weak; then we act on these sexist beliefs.
For more on the subject, see "Reservation Hotties" and "Welfare Chicks" and Women and Indians as Peacemakers.
Below: "Miss San Pasqual Brittany Miguel (center) with members of her court, Angelito Alvarez (back left), Draco Geronimo (back right), Ramona Emerson (front left) and Teresa Valenzuela (front right)." (Craig Fry/Yuma Sun)