By: Lani Hansen, Senior Reporter
PAWHUSKA, Oklahoma– On Memorial Day weekend, Osage County Fairgrounds will be hosting the Indian Relay races bringing approximately 70 teams from different tribes.
According to Linwood Hisbadhorse, Sr. (Northern Cheyenne) owner of Hisbadhorse relay team, this event started many years ago. He stated the race is a big event, teams coming from the Northern, Western and Central parts of the United States.
“Indian Relay is a three-horse relay around a mile track,” Hisbadhorse said. “This is promoting Indian relay in the southern country.”
Hisbadhorse said, the reason for bringing Indian relay to Oklahoma is back in the 1800’s Native people were placed in what was then Indian Territory. Many of the Native’s lost their horse culture. Back then, to hunt buffalo, transport or even to survive Native people depended on horses. He feels that southern tribes have lost this vital link to the past.
“We’ve had two previous events in the past in 2017 and 2018 in Perkins, Oklahoma,” Hisbadhorse said. “That was with the Indian relay itself with the Iowa Tribe of Indians. It was an invitational where 12 teams were selected from Montana.”
The Indian relay event is expected to be huge with about 70 teams coming. Each team has to allow five horses for use in the event. The purse money is what is attracting all the teams. Hisbadhorse said there is $140,000 in prize money.
“This is kind of history in the making, as I was talking to a guy and he said this will be the largest gathering of warriors since the Little Bighorn battle in Montana,” Hisbadhorse stated.
The three-horse relay around the track consists of four team members, the rider and the mugger. He said the mugger holds the horse still for the rider during an exchange. The rider will make two exchanges with three separate horses, each horse runs one lap around the track.
Hisbadhorse has been a part of the Indian relay races for many years, under the Hisbadhorse Company and lending a helping hand in directing the races. His son who just got out of the marines is one of their riders. He says the relays are a family tradition. Their team represents the Northern Cheyenne tribe.
Other events going on include sheep race, maiden’s race, hide race, women’s Indian relay, warrior’s race and 45 and over relay teams. Winners will receive jackets and buckles like any other rodeo event.
The Indian relay races will be running from May 27 through May 31. The event will include a traditional grand entry with dancers and color guard.
For more information contact Linwood Hisbadhorse at 406-679-3307. For vendors contact Jim Steven’s at 918-338-9440.