The Miss Indian Arizona Program began in 1961 resulting from an idea of then Arizona State Fair Director, Charles Garland. It was sponsored by the State Fair Commission and held during the State Fair for 5 years. In June of 1967, the Arizona Republic reported the Miss Indian Arizona Program was "scalped due to lack of Wampum." For the next 32 years, the Program was held on various Arizona reservations with sponsorship shared by the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona, a 501(c) (3) organization, the State Fair Commission and the Arizona tribes. For seventeen of these years, the Colorado River Indian Tribes and the Irataba Society sponsored the Program on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in Parker, Arizona.
In 2000, the Pageant returned to the Phoenix Metropolitan area under the sponsorship of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, and the newly-organized Miss Indian Arizona Association ("Association"). The Pageant officially became the Miss Indian Arizona Scholarship Program with a focus on academics and community service.
The Association is comprised of volunteers, including past title holders, tribal representatives, and people who have a genuine interest in promoting, presenting, and facilitating the Miss Indian Arizona Scholarship Program. The Association is responsible for raising all funds required to cover the expenses of the program and presenting the program on behalf of the Inter Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA), the Association's fiscal agent.
Each Tribe may be represented by no more than two participants. Participants may be tribal royalty sponsored by a Tribe or “At Large” participants, sponsored by a Tribe, a family, organizations, businesses, etc.Participation is open to enrolled members of Arizona Indian Tribes between the ages of 17-24 who are in high school, college, trade school or who are employed and wish to pursue their education. The young women participate in a program which presents Arizona Indian traditional principals and values through songs, dance, stories, dress, and humor. The young ladies compete in six categories: interview, talent (contemporary or traditional), evening gown, traditional dress, oral presentation, and personal interviews.
Each participant receives a scholarship to assist in furthering the participant's education. The young woman selected as Miss Indian Arizona serves as an Ambassador for all Arizona Tribes for a period of one year. During this year, she attends many functions and events throughout the state and serves as a role model to Arizona Indian youth.
The Miss Indian Arizona Scholarship Program is held annually during the month of October.