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Current Headlines

  • NAFSA: Recent CFPB action could set dangerous precedent

    WASHINGTON – A recent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) action is deeply troubling for tribal sovereignty and tribal economic development, according to the Native American Financial Services Association (NAFSA) and a wide array of American Indian and Alaska Native organizations and tribes. The group recently sent a letter to CFPB Director

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  • Event focus on keeping moccasin-making tradition alive

    GALLUP, N.M. (AP) – For Donnaleigh Dedman, the room of Navajo moccasin-makers represented a return to self-sufficiency and being self-sustaining. "I like this room of Navajo people making moccasins," Dedman said Nov. 8. "This is what it should be like. Not us running into town to buy moccasins from the white

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  • Winnebago Tribe makes move to take over troubled hospital

    WINNEBAGO, Neb. (AP) – The Winnebago Tribal Council has taken steps to take over management of a hospital on a Native American reservation in northeastern Nebraska. The Sioux City Journal reports that the council voted last week to initiate the process of taking control of the Omaha Winnebago Hospital. The tribe

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Featured Job Listings

  • #2017-14016 Patient Benefit Coordinator

    Cherokee Nation, whose headquarters are located in beautiful Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is a national leader in Indian tribal governments and economic development. We are a dynamic, progressive organization, which owns several business enterprises and administers a variety of services for the Cherokee people in Northeastern Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation offers an exceptional

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  • #2017-14027 RN MED-SURG

    Cherokee Nation, whose headquarters are located in beautiful Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is a national leader in Indian tribal governments and economic development. We are a dynamic, progressive organization, which owns several business enterprises and administers a variety of services for the Cherokee people in Northeastern Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation offers an exceptional

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  • #2017-14017 Inpatient RN

    Cherokee Nation, whose headquarters are located in beautiful Tahlequah, Oklahoma, is a national leader in Indian tribal governments and economic development. We are a dynamic, progressive organization, which owns several business enterprises and administers a variety of services for the Cherokee people in Northeastern Oklahoma. Cherokee Nation offers an exceptional

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  • American Indian Studies Faculty

    The Pawnee Nation College is accepting applications for American Indian Studies Faculty. Applicants must have a Master's degree in the field. If interested, you may find an application on the website at www.pawneenationcollege.org or call 918-762-3343 for more information. The Pawnee Nation College (PNC), founded in 2004, began offering general

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  • Financial Accounting Faculty

    The Pawnee Nation College is accepting applications for Introductory Financial Accounting Faculty. Applicants must have a Master's degree in the field. If interested, you may find an application on the website at www.pawneenationcollege.org or call 918-762-3343 for more information. The Pawnee Nation College (PNC), founded in 2004, began offering general

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  • Introductory Algebra & College Algebra Faculty

    The Pawnee Nation College is accepting applications for Introductory Algebra and College Algebra Faculty. Applicants must have a Master's degree in the field. If interested, you may find an application on the website at www.pawneenationcollege.org or call 918-762-3343 for more information. The Pawnee Nation College (PNC), founded in 2004, began

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  • English Composition I & II Faculty

    The Pawnee Nation College is accepting applications for English Composition I & II Faculty. Applicants must have a Master's degree in the field. If interested, you may find an application on the website at www.pawneenationcollege.org or call 918-762-3343 for more information. The Pawnee Nation College (PNC), founded in 2004, began

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  • Early Childhood Education Instructor

    The Pawnee Nation College is accepting applications for an Early Childhood Education Instructor. Applicants must have a Master's degree in the field. If interested, you may find an application on the website at www.pawneenationcollege.org or call 918-762-3343 for more information. The Pawnee Nation College (PNC), founded in 2004, began offering

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  • Assistant Professor | Landscape Architecture Program

    The South Dakota State University Landscape Architecture Program invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor position to begin August 2018. Responsibilities include teaching courses within the professional curriculum, developing and carrying out an agenda of creative work and research, providing service to the discipline, university and community, and teaching in

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  • In-House Staff Attorney

    The Snoqualmie Indian Tribe is seeking experienced candidates for an In-House Staff Attorney. This position provides legal advice, representation, and services regarding a broad range of matters arising in the operation of the Snoqualmie Tribal Government and its various departments. - Juris Doctorate from an A.B.A. accredited law school required. - At

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In this photo taken July 16, 2010, James Bullshoe, left, and Zack Rock, right, rides past an uncooperative horse during the World Champion Indian Relay Race in Sheridan, Wyo.  ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO BY BLAINE McCARTNEY, SHERIDAN PRPaying tribute to their cultural reverence for horses, horsemanship and bravery, Native Americans speed bareback around a track, then jump from one mount to the next amid a jumbled mass of rearing steeds.
Think horse racing with pit stops.
“It’s a lifestyle really,” said Jostin Lawrence, co-owner of an Indian Relay team from the Blackfeet Nation in Browning, Mont. “We’re always on the road. If we’re not on the road, we’re with our horses.”
Lawrence’s team was one of 24 that gathered in Sheridan on a July weekend for four nights of racing at the Sheridan WYO Rodeo. The meet, which offered $25,000 in prize money, included teams from tribes in Montana, South Dakota, Washington and Idaho.
“It’s very competitive,” said Lawrence as his team prepped its horses for a race. “We got all these teams here and they’re all vying for that championship spot. It’s like any kind of racing. You’ve got your fights in the back, you’ve got your friends and buddies. Other teams have rivals. So it can be pretty intense. The crowds love it.”
The races have become a big draw since they were reintroduced at the Sheridan rodeo 14 years ago, said Zane Garstad, vice president of the rodeo board. Even the professional cowboys hop on the arena fence to watch the action.
“I know local people who would say ‘I don’t mind the rodeo, but I really enjoy the Indian Relay races,”’ Garstad said. “So we’ve brought another group of people to the show.”
The rules of Indian Relay are simple. Teams consist of four people and three horses. A team’s rider makes three laps around the track, changing to a new horse at the beginning of each lap.
Two teammates stand at the edge of the track holding and calming the waiting horses for the incoming rider. The fourth teammate’s job is to catch the arriving horse while the rider dismounts and leaps onto the next horse.
The exchanges are the sport’s signature action. At Sheridan, the mild roar of the crowd escalated into full-throated cheering as the six riders charged back into the arena from the half-mile track. The catchers waved their riders in for the exchange, and the holders shoved them on their way, cursing or clapping, depending on their results.
A perfect exchange is beauty in motion. The rider leaps off his horse and bounces one or two steps before vaulting onto the next horse and hugging its neck tightly as it takes off for another lap.
But with 24 people and 18 horses all working in an area about the size of a basketball court, complications are common. Horses get excited and start dragging their holders around. Horses throw riders, rearing or taking off before the rider has a firm hold. Accelerating horses crash into one another or trample the holders.
Bumps and bruises are common, and broken bones aren’t unusual.
“Every position on the team is dangerous,” Lawrence said. “Anything can happen at any time. Horses hitting you from another team, your own horse blowing up.”
Participants view the event as a cultural and spiritual connection to their forefathers and the historical tribal practices of warfare and hunting.
Some point to how hunters would herd bison over long distances to force them over cliffs, jumping on new horses at relay points along the way. Others hearken to raids in which one tribe would steal another’s horses and take them home.
“They would tether their horses along the route,” said Shawn Real Bird, a Crow tribal member from Garryowen, Mont., and a coordinator of the Sheridan Indian Relay. “They were herding them back, and they would jump on a fresh horse every so often all the way back to their home area.”
The origins of organized Indian Relay racing are unclear. LaGrand Coby, president of the Shoshone-Bannock Relay Association, said the eastern Idaho reservation has been running Indian relays as part of tribal fairs since the early 1900s.
Racers relish the competition with other tribes.
“I do it for fun, but there’s still the bragging rights that everyone wants from every different nation,” said Wade Amyotte, 24, a Crow rider from Lodge Grass, Mont., and a two-time champion at Sheridan. “It’s the same as a long time ago, the bragging rights.”
Prize money also fuels the competition. It helps the teams pay for gas, horse feed and new horses. The teams race different types breeds, mostly thoroughbreds, purchased from racetracks across the country.
At the Sheridan race, the team members camped with their families in tents and horse trailers at the fairground stables. It’s one of several opportunities each summer to race in front of big audiences at western rodeos and fairs, interspersed with smaller races on their reservations.
The races help promote and preserve Native American horse culture, Real Bird said.
“It also gives these young men a goal so they can ride their horses, exercise their horses and lead a good clean healthy lifestyle,” he said. “It’s a new beginning for each and every Indian relay racer every time they run a new race.”