Native woman heads to Miss America competition
Elyse Umemoto, a member of the Yakama Nation of Washington, hopes to be the first Native American to win the Miss America pageant.

She'll also be the first Hispanic woman and the second Asian woman to wear the crown. In addition to being Yakama, Umemoto is German, Hispanic and Japanese.

"One of the messages I want to share as Miss Washington and potentially as Miss America is it doesn't matter the color of your skin," Umemoto tells The Yakima Herald-Republic. "If it did, I'd be four different colors. I come from four very different backgrounds."

Umemoto grew up in Wapato, on the Yakama Reservation. She competed in her first pageant two years ago and has been on a winning streak since then [YouTube: Miss Washington 2007 Elyse Umemoto Crowning Moment]

Miss America takes place January 26 at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

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Wapato native Elyse Umemoto heads to Miss America pageant (The Yakima Herald-Republic 1/15)

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