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LAWTON, Okla. — Shelby Elizabeth Mata, a tribal citizen of the Comanche Nation, was crowned Miss Native American USA 2021-2022 on Friday, Sept. 10 in a special ceremony. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the competition for the Miss Native American USA pageant was canceled this year for the second year in a row. As an alternative solution to name a new Miss Native American USA, the pageant’s leadership team decided to give the title to Mata, 24, who was the first runner-up two years ago. She succeeds  Lexie James (Hopi), who reigned for one extra year because of the pandemic.  

“We are saddened to go another year without competition. This year would have been our 10th Anniversary scholarship pageant but we understand Indian Country is still at risk to the Covid-19 Delta Variant. We hope that calling upon our first runner-up demonstrates our commitment to continue representing Indian Country while providing opportunities to our former past contestants,” Tashina Atine (Diné), founder and CEO of the pageant said.

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“We look forward to welcoming Shelby and are grateful for her and her family. We would like to thank Comanche Nation Tribal Chairman Mark Woommavovah for accepting our invitation to crown Shelby Mata on our behalf this year,” Atine continued.

Mata is from Walter, Okla. A winner of eight previous tribal and powwow royalty titles with her tribe and community, she becomes the ninth crowned Miss Native American USA. She is a southern cloth and buckskin powwow dancer who has traveled extensively across the United States and abroad to represent her tradition and culture.

“I am honored and very excited for this upcoming year to represent the Miss Native American USA 2021-22,” Mata said. “I look forward to the new friendships, experiences, and opportunity to share my platform. I want to thank my parents for always being so supportive, my friends, and to all my supporters who have encouraged me and given me kind words along the way.”

Mata is Miss Native American USA’s first contestant titleholder from Oklahoma and was crowned at the Comanche Nation Complex’s Comanche Code Talker Room by Woommavovah.

During a competition two years ago, Mata said she upholds a platform that spreads the message of cultural knowledge and awareness. The platform focuses on identity, connection to culture, balancing tribal and American societal values in addition to encouraging one another. 

The next competitive Miss Native American USA pageant is scheduled for the fall of 2022 at the Tempe Center for the Arts in Tempe, Ariz.

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