Lakota Country Times: Oglala citizen makes splash on rodeo scene

Former Miss Indian Rodeo, Soni Clifford, has added another title to her resume after being named Miss Black Hills Stock Show in Rapid City, South Dakota. Photo courtesy Soni Clifford

Soni Clifford is Miss Black Hills Stock Show
By Brandon Ecoffey
Lakota Country Times Editor

RAPID CITY—In a world where the presence of Native American personalities is limited, one Oglala Lakota citizen is making a major splash.

Nearly three years ago, Soni Clifford, 24, of Rockyford, South Dakota, made her first appearance as a rodeo queen when she secured the title of Miss Indian Rodeo during the Indian National Finals Rodeo held Las Vegas, NV. In January, the Gates Millennium Scholar and current Black Hill State University student walked away with the 2016 title of Miss Black Hills Stock Show.

“I was a little bit nervous,” said Clifford. “I think it was because it was the first pageant I had done in two years.”

The win in Rapid City is special for Clifford for a number of reasons. “When I was a little girl this was always one of my favorite rodeos and it feels good to be chosen as ambassador for it.”

After vacating the Miss Indian Rodeo Crown two yeas ago, Soni spent much of her time focusing on pursuing her degree in business administration from Black Hills State.

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“I took a couple of years off to try and finish school”, said Clifford.

After realizing that the window for achieving her goals in the world of rodeo pageantry was closing, Clifford decided to re-enter the game.

“I was focused on school and then I got up in age and realized I wouldn’t be able to run for this title, or the Miss Rodeo South Dakota title next year, so I knew I had to do it this year,” said Clifford.

To win the coveted title of Miss Black Hills Stock show, contestants were required to compete in a horsemanship competition and Contestants were required to study a pattern that they would then attempt to replicate on horseback in front of judges and complete a series of interviews. The contestant with the highest combined score between in horsemanship and the interviews is then declared the winner.

“I had to study for the personal interview that is 15 minutes long. They can ask about anything from rodeo to basic horse knowledge. Really, they can ask you anything,” said Clifford. “You kind of have to read all the current events and all retain all that knowledge,” she added.

Clifford hopes to be chosen as Miss Rodeo South Dakota in order to qualify to compete for her ultimate goal of being crowned Miss Rodeo America at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo later this year.

(Contact Brandon Ecoffey at

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