Brandon Ecoffey: Indian relay surges in popularity in our communities


Indian relay racing is a sport that dates back hundreds of years. Photo by Professional Indian Horse Racing Association / Facebook

A note from the editor's desk
The second coming of the horse
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor
lakotacountrytimes.com

Over the course of the last few years I've watched the modern day sport of Indian Relay grow at a profound rate. The sport has become so significant to our readership that LCT has used news about it several times as our lead story.

The growth of the sport is due in large part to the investment of time and energy by those behind the Professional Indian Horse Racing Association. The efforts that they have made to promote the sport as "the first extreme sport" is now beginning to attract corporate investors and the interest of major tracks across the country. Their work has taken the sport from a weekend pastime and transformed it into a legit sports league with regulations and a season long series of races that will eventually determine who the "champion of champions" is at the end of the year.

Last week we mistakenly labeled the races held in Sheridan, WY, as a Professional Indian Horse Racing event, but in fact, the race is independent and has crowned its own world champion for years. The PIHRA will crown its own grand champion during a series of races In Billings, MT set for September 22-25 in Billings, MT during the Native American Heritage Days.

Three of the individuals who took home the World Champion title at the races in Sheridan this year were part of the Lakota War Path in 2014 when the team owned by Calvin Ghost Bear and managed by his son Donroy "Cubby" Ghost Bear took home the crown.


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The quick ascension of modern Indian relay as an organized sport is an example of how we as Indian people have the ability to tap into our rich cultural history for ways to create economic development in our communities. Our people's cultural and spiritual connections with the horse guarantees that there will always be dollars spent and invested into this relationship whether it be through Indian relay, rodeo, recreation, ranching, or simply love for the species.

What Indian relay is doing is intriguing and welcomed as it taken this historical relationship and created a brand that combines many of the things we love about our Lakota way of life and packaged it in a way that is easily consumable by audiences. The sport itself spurns within me some the same feelings of curiosity and intrigue that the NFL and UFC have built themselves upon. It would not be surprising to see Indian relay catch on with a major TV network in the next few years.

For those interested in learning more about the sport please visit the PIHRA website professionalindianhorseracingassociation.com

(Brandon Ecoffey is the editor of LCT and is an award winning journalist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He can be reached at editor@lakotacountrytimes.com)

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