Kylee Sells, left, gets her sash put on by last year’s Miss Indian RRPS, Makila Furcap, at last month’s pageant. Courtesy photo.

Only a freshman at Rio Rancho High School — where she has yet to enter a classroom — Kylee Sells seems to have her head on straight.
Crowned Miss Indian RRPS last month, she’s focused on health and wellness, which was her platform for the pageant, never straying from her Navajo roots and keeping her grades up.
A lifelong resident of Rio Rancho, Kylee attended Sandia Vista Elementary and then Eagle Ridge Middle School, before polishing off eighth grade last May and headed — virtually, anyway — to RRHS.
“I don’t know what it’s like,” she said, of being a Ram, thanks to the pandemic.
But she does know, “You gotta keep your grades up, pretty much all through high school — I somehow maintain my grades.”
The daughter of Brad and Angeline Sells, Kylee said competing in the fourth annual Miss Indian RRPS pageant involved writing an essay and specifying what she had done for her community.
In addition to her essay, she needed to demonstrate a traditional Navajo task.
“My talent was wool-carding. My grandmother taught us how to make rugs — wool-carding and sitting is a traditional talent used to make rugs,” Kylee said. “If my grandmother didn’t have problems with her hands, she would probably be sitting (and) weaving now.”
Also, Kylee said, “I’m really involved with my (Sagebrush) church and what they do to help the homeless, and I helped clean a homeless shelter for women.”
She’s also a competitive swimmer, coached by Jeremiah Stanton, which she has been doing for about six years. She’s looking forward to swimming for the Rams.
“I love my team,” she said of her club team.
Of all the events, she prefers the individual medley, which can showcase a swimmer’s strengths in four styles, although, “I do really well in freestyle.”
Virtual learning, she said, “is very, very different; I like staying home, but I think I’d like to go back.”
She’s not sure where she’ll be in 10 years, but intends to further her education: “I do plan on going to college; I haven’t quite figured out what I want to be and do, but I should go.”
Like last year’s Miss Indian RRPS, Makila Furcap, Kylee also wishes the state’s curriculum included more about Native Americans’ history and impact. What RRPS students ultimately get, she said, comes in their New Mexico History class.
“Most of it is kinda what I knew,” she said. “(And) there was a brief summary (of the Long Walk); it didn’t have much details.”
Angeline Sells has impressed upon her daughter the importance of getting good grades and keeping up with the Navajo language, which Kylee hopes to learn, and its proud tradition.
“Most of my mom’s side of the family live on the reservation near Farmington,” she said. “We did have a couple health scares because of COVID-19 — my great-grandmother passed away due to COVID. She was 98 and passed away in a nursing home in Farmington.”
Being Miss Indian RRPS has been easy so far. Because of the pandemic, there haven’t been any events or appearances for her to make.
“I really haven’t gotten to do anything yet,” she said.
But she’s looking forward to making an impression.

Gary Herron | Observer staff writer