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95th Annual Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial

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Indigenous cultures showcase dance, ornate regalia

A beloved local event, held at Red Rock Park, brings in, from near and far, visitors and locals, bull riders, ropers and wrestlers, dancers, drummers, artists, two parades, and even its own celebrated queen.

A $10 all-access admission ($5 for kids) gets you five days of traditional celebration, as well as romping, riding, festive fun, beginning with a morning junior rodeo on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

The junior rodeo is followed by the Queen’s luncheon at noon, Preview Night at 6 pm, and ladies and junior bull riding.

On Thursday, Aug. 11, the exhibit halls opens at 10 am and the Queen Contest is held. At 7 pm, there’s a rodeo performance followed by the night parade.

On Friday, Aug. 12, the morning youth song and dance is followed by amphitheater dances at 11 am, ongoing until 6 pm. The rodeo is held at 1 pm; a gourd dance at 3 pm; the first pow-wow of the event takes place at 7 pm; and the night performance at 8 pm features White Buffalo and the crowning of Miss Inter-Tribal Ceremonial.

The event’s penultimate day has a song and dance, with entries starting at 9 am, and a parade in store at 10 am; amphitheater dances from 11 in the morning until 6 in the evening; a midday gourd dance; and a rodeo performance at 1 pm. At 6 pm, the pow-wow grand entry is held, followed by a night performance featuring “White Buffalo” at 8 pm.

The final day of the Ceremonial, Aug. 14, begins at noon with an all-Indian rodeo “Old School Days.”

Ceremonial Rodeo: Something for everyone

Among the festivities are the rodeos that complement the affair and bring out hundreds of fans from greater McKinley County. Each of the rodeos takes place at Red Rock Park.

“The rodeos are just as popular, if not more popular than the rest of what [Ceremonial] has to offer,” Dudley Byerley, who is in his first year as Ceremonial president, said. “We’re pleased with the rodeo lineup that we have this year.”

And indeed the 2016 lineup includes two new rodeos on Aug. 10: an 8 am junior rodeo and an evening ladies and junior bull riding events.

The Indian National Finals Rodeo

From Aug. 11 through 13 there will be an Indian National Finals Rodeo, which includes bareback, steer wrestling, breakaway, tie-down roping, saddle bronc, barrel racing, and bull riding. Performances begin at 7 pm on Aug. 11, and at 1 pm on Aug. 12 and 13.

Another rodeo is scheduled for the morning of Aug. 11 at 8 am.

The Old School Days Rodeo

“With this, our intention is to capture something from years past and at the same time give the people who have come to the event for decades something to draw back on,” Byerley said.

Byerley, who grew up around rodeo in his native Oklahoma, said the Old School Days Rodeo event starts at noon on Aug. 14.

It includes bull dogging, bareback, breakaway, wooly riding, wild horse racing, a pony express race, a relay race, buffalo riding, and other races.

According to Byerly, the Old School Days Rodeo was a big draw years ago, but it seems to have faded a bit in recent years. This year, though, the president expects to have more than 1,000 contestants participating in the rodeo segment of the Ceremonial.

While the event as a whole has been plagued by dwindling attendance over the past few years, Byerley said a revamped exhibit hall and a trade show should bring the crowds out.

“We’re expecting a lot of people,” Byerly said, adding that he’s already excited about leading the charge to organize next year’s Ceremonial. “It’s a lot of work, but well worth it.”

Visit gallupceremonial.com for more information.

By Mia Rose Poris, Sun Editor
Bernie Dotson, Corresponent