97th Ceremonial heats up the Indian Capitol


Event ramps up activities as it nears the century mark

The 97th annual Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial promises to have something for everyone.

The Ceremonial is scheduled Aug. 3-12 and features an arts exhibit, night performances, powwow, Gallup Inter-Tribal Queen pageant, tiny tot pageant, rodeo, song and dance, opening night wine tasting, gourd dance, elders contest, vendors, parades, 5K run, awards, and native film series.

Since 1922, the event has highlighted American Indian dances and culture.

Dudley Byerley, director of the Ceremonial, said his cadre of volunteers is in high gear, especially since events start today.

“We’re still collecting sponsorship money, getting payments ready. We’ve got a crew at the park, doing the build up of the park and getting ready to hang banners,” he said.

Aug. 3 is artist check-in day for the Ceremonial arts exhibit, a juried art show featuring the best native artists from across the country.

The Ceremonial 10K and 5K run and walk will be on Aug. 4, starting at 6:30 a.m. at Ellis Tanner Trading Co.

Byerley noted that the Ceremonial is especially proud of Fire Rock Casino’s Aug. 10 gate sponsorship.

“One of the things we have is the free day from Fire Rock Casino on Friday. Fire Rock bought the whole gate for that day. There will be no admission fee, no parking fee,” he said. “It’s a cool deal and I’m really proud of it. Fire Rock really stepped up and helped us out.”

The annual budget of the Ceremonial is $600,000. Byerley said the funds come from multiple sources that sponsor the annual event.

For the 2018 Ceremonial, things will be primarily the same as previous years, the night parade is on Thursday, the standard parade on Saturday, and the crowning of the Gallup Inter-Tribal Queen.

The song and dance will be at a different arena this year on Aug. 11-12.

On Aug. 12, the Old School Days Rodeo is going to have a paid gate courtesy of Thunderbird Supply Co. and Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Attendees will have to pay $5 for parking.

Byerley said the rodeo will feature the classic events from more than 50 years ago plus modern rodeo events like the short go round, showcasing the best of the best.

“We’re going to have top cowboys like Aaron Tsinigine, one of the PRCA’s top ropers in the world. He’ll be here with cowboys from Phoenix, Albuquerque, eastern New Mexico and Oklahoma. We’ll have cowboys from everywhere,” he said.

For most spectators, the night performance is the quintessential Ceremonial experience.

This year, the tribal dancers and performers include: Aztec, Pine Mountain Apache, Diamond Creek Apache, Southern Cheyenne, Chickasaw, Comanche, Hopi, Navajo Fire Lighters, Navajo Pollen Trail, Ohkay Owinge, Pima, Sioux, Taos Pueblo, Totonac Voladores, Cellicion Dancers of the Zuni Pueblo, Kallestewa of the Zuni Pueblo, Olla Maidens of the Zuni Pueblo, Maricopa, Omaha, and Northern Cheyenne.

“The Voladores are coming back again on Friday and Saturday night. They’ll also be in the parade. We got the White Buffalo coming back for the night performances,” he said.

The Horse Stealing Dance is a new event this year and Byerley said it is going to be something different from two dance groups.

“We got a really nice horse and he’ll be painted up all Native American. We got a nice Native American lady that’s going to bring him in,” he said.

The official Ceremonial Magazine came in July 30 and is being distributed throughout the area. Pickup a copy for a complete schedule of events or visit:


By Rick Abasta 
Sun Correspondent