SHERIDAN, Wyo. – The Professional Indian Horse Racing Association is proud to announce the second annual All Nations Indian Relay Championships, which will be held September 12-14, at the Sheridan County Fairgrounds. More than 35 teams representing 11 to 15 Indian nations from across North America will compete for more than $50,000 in prizes and the coveted Champions’ Jackets and Buckles. This weekend event is a Native American cultural celebration showcasing authentic Indian art, storytelling, native traditions and much more.
Indian Relay is America’s oldest known competition and is quickly becoming the country’s newest extreme sport. Teams from the Horse Nations competed in relay events throughout the summer months, earning points to qualify for the All Nations Championship. The races are not only a way for teams to demonstrate bravery and horsemanship, but also serve as a way to spiritually connect with their ancestors and share tribal customs with a broader audience.
Wearing traditional clothing and face paint, Native American warriors ride bareback around the track at breakneck speeds. The rider makes three laps, flying off one horse and leaping on to another after each lap. Three teammates stand at the edge of the track, holding the horses and waiting to catch the incoming horse while the rider dismounts. The team’s job is to make sure the rider’s transition from one horse to another is seamless; one minor error can change the outcome of the race. For spectators, this is often the most exciting part of the competition.
The All Nations ceremonies will commence on Friday, September 12 with a traditional grand entry featuring Native American singers and dancers. Throughout the weekend, Native American elders and college professors will share oral histories and stories from different tribes, artisans will display and sell their arts and crafts, and food vendors from across the country will serve traditional dishes from their nations.
The relay will consist of six heats on both Friday and Saturday, then the teams with the best records will advance to the finals on Sunday. Spectators can watch the first, second and third consolation races prior to the championship race. Between the relay races, the audience can enjoy Native American horse events including a warriors’ race, a ladies’ race, a hide race and a kids’ relay race. Attendees on Saturday will be treated to a musical performance by nationally acclaimed Native American talent following that evening’s Indian Relay performance.
This year marks the second PIHRA Indian Relay Championships, which will now become an annual event in Sheridan. The relay was moved to Sheridan this year because Indian Relay Races have been a part of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo for decades and the town is a centralized location for the teams involved.
Gary Fellers and his wife Jeanette Sassoon started PIHRA in 2013 to do something positive for those who live on the Reservations, to bring new economic opportunities to Native Americans and also carry on native traditions and horse culture.There were 17 member teams the first year; one year later, they have 31 teams and expect to have up to 40 by the time of the championships.
Advance pricing on reserved tickets start at $20 with children’s advance tickets starting at $12. Tickets will be available at IndianRelay.com and the Sheridan Travel and Tourism website SheridanWyoming.org. You can also contact the WYO Theater box office, by calling 672-9084 or online at Wyotheater.com. For more information, call Gary Fellers at (307) 655-9330 or (561) 301-0010.