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Miss Alaska contestant Shondiin Mayo speaks with KNBA

Shondiin Mayo (Taken with permission from Shondiin Mayo's Facebook page)
Shondiin Mayo (Taken with permission from Shondiin Mayo's Facebook page)

Shondiin Mayo of Fairbanks hopes to be the next Miss Alaska. After earning a bachelor’s degree in creative media and film, a local TV station hired her as a reporter. Today, she’s working towards a master’s degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Mayo is both Alaska Native (Stevens Village) and a part of the Navajo Nation (Ts'aa Bii Kin, Arizona).

Recently, Mayo worked with CBS to raise awareness of the importance of Indigenous representation in media.

She said “I’ve never really seen myself in media, or any other place like that. So I think I would really want to champion narrative change. Especially as a voice that is not as heard in the industry.” 

Mayo is originally from Stevens Village, an isolated community on the Yukon River. She also spent time growing up in Fairbanks and in the Navajo Nation, where she says she was inspired by traditional Native ways of life, experiences that she loves to share.

“Rural communities, like the one I grew up in, are important and necessary… I really wanted to share that message and give hope. It has really been an exciting process.”

Mayo says she spent the last year getting ready for the competition.

Her platform is about changing storylines for and about rural communities.

She’s been showered with tremendous community support, from kind posts on social media to donations, that include gifts of time and effort like those from Deloole'aanh (Deh-ghoul-uh) Erickson, an Indigenous artist, who made Mayo’s earrings for the evening gown competition.

Mayo said “And what makes that super special is that these earrings will be reflecting a traditional design. They will also be made with natural resources. So I will be taking my heritage on stage.”

The stage will be shared by about two dozen contestants from across the state. The winner will go on to represent Alaska in the Miss USA competition later this year in Reno, Nevada.

The Miss Alaska competition will be held this Saturday evening from 6 to 9 at the Bartlett High School Auditorium. 

Hannah Bissett is a Dena'ina woman who is currently enrolled at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Hannah is pursuing an International Studies degree and is president of two student organizations on campus.