Skip to main content
Scottsdale Community College - Learn. Grow. Achieve

Miss Indian SCC meets the President

Martha Martinez receives a hug from President Obama

Martha Ludlow Martinez fulfilled a dream in September when she performed a song for President Barack Obama in Washington, D.C. as part of closing ceremonies at the 8th Annual White House Tribal Nations Conference.

The SCC student performed a traditional Bird song for the President, along with fellow Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Kelly Washington. They sang a song from their Piipaash (Maricopa) heritage playbook of Native songs. 

“To me it was like a euphoric dream because it’s your dream coming true right at that moment,” said Martinez, 26, a communications major at Scottsdale Community College and Mesa Community College.

The chance to perform and even hug the President made up for the time Martinez skipped class In 2008 to go see President Obama speak at Dobson High School. The Westwood High School grad didn’t get to see the president that day but got a second chance.

“He’s someone who has made a tremendous impact on native countries and has passed things that have really helped native tribes,” she said. “I can’t recall another president who took time to recognize the people who were here first.”

The reigning Miss Indian SCC was working away at her full-time job as NAGPRA coordinator for cultural resources for the SRP-MIC tribe when her supervisor told her about the opportunity. That was on Wednesday, Sept. 21. Three days later she would be on a plane headed for the nation’s capital.

During the closing ceremony, President received a Pendleton blanket with some custom design work and a Cedar Hat. For her part, Martinez wore the sash and crown she earned when she became Miss Indian SCC last November.

“I just thought it was really cool that someone from a community college was able to do something like this,” she said. I also thought it would be awesome to put SCC up there and show that they are creating and molding future leaders.”

The President hugged her and thanked her after the ceremony. “He said ‘thank you for your singing’ and I said ‘thank you for your service.’ It was very brief. The Secret Service is very big on time.”

Martinez said the event at Andrew Mellon Auditorium was well choreographed. The rehearsal on Sunday lasted 3½ hours. In fact, it was at the rehearsal where she and Washington learned they would be singing up on stage with the President.

The experience reaffirmed her commitment to continue studying and finding ways to bring honor recognition to her tribe and all Native peoples and they issues they face.

“It was an opportunity to give recognition to SCC and Arizona but to a minority that isn’t very visible.”

Martinez said winning the Miss Indian SCC pageant last November played a big role in her being dedicated and committed to education.

“I wasn’t the best student and I didn’t have the motivation to pursue education after high school,” she said. “But when I became an ambassador after the Miss Indian SCC pageant, things started to change.”

Indeed, she’s now got a memory to cherish. “It was an honor I never thought I would have the opportunity to have, but I did. It just shows that all things are possible.”