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Cowboys and Indians?

May 26, 2009

Those of you who still believe that cowboys and Indians are separate groups need to attend a rodeo in Lame Deer, Montana.  The three-day Memorial Weekend rodeo was packed with cowboys and cowgirls who are… Indian.  From calf roping to bull riding to barrel racing, Indian men, women, and children did it all.

It’s no surprise that Indians are avid rodeo folks, as horses have long been a part of the life and culture of Plains tribes.  Indians even created their own unique rodeo event:  Indian racing.  Riders gallop bareback around a race track, then hop off one horse to jump on another before racing around again, and again, and again – I believe a team consists of four horses plus the rider and handlers.  It’s crazy to watch, as there are often traffic jams in the switch-off area, with people and horses bumping into each other left and right.  There were no Indian races at the Lame Deer rodeo, but there was one on the Crow Reservation today; my nearest neighbor, Leroy, told me this evening that his team left the competition eating dust.

My favorite event, though, is mutton busting; the name alone is a riot.  It’s a tiny-tot event in which five-year-olds ride sheep out of a chute; the tyke to hold on for the longest time wins.  It’s a precursor to calf-riding, and then bull-riding, as the tykes grow older.  I wonder if they have this event at the Grange Fair?

Inspired by all of the rodeo events, I returned home after working with my horse and practiced roping with a lariat.  I successfully roped my propane tank from various angles and with both hands, although I am definitely better with my left – surprising, because although I write with my left hand, I do just about everything else with my right hand.  Once I get consistent enough with the propane tank, I told my puppy Star that she could become my moving target

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