First and foremost is the encampment. They call it the “Tipi Capital of the World” with good reason. The camp stretches for more than a mile, one-way and is a half-mile wide. There are hundreds, if not thousands of tipis and tents in that area, each camp a highly coveted space passed down through the years, some, such as my in-laws, the ‘Yellow Tail Camp’, now in the third generation (nearly a hundred years) at the same spot. Other families, having grown in numbers have expanded, establishing new camps. Yet, don’t mess around with their traditional family camping spots, perhaps more important to them than allotments, their granted bit of tribal land. This year, for the first in several, I accompanied another Sheridan friend, (a teacher who devoted 35 years to the Crow) to Crow Fair. We arrived early, joining a camp at one end, just in time for the "Parade." My friend decided to stay at camp to visit, while I waded down to the Parade. The Parade is marvelous: “The Crows love to Parade,” said my good friend, Jay Harris. And they do so – gloriously, everyone clad in traditional regalia, even the horses decorated with lavish beadwork. Ever charming are the little ones, tiny Shetlands ridden by tiny riders, some carefully led by Grandpas or older brothers. There is the "royalty" -- Indian princesses of every denomination, representing each of the six districts and many other Pow-Wows. Their traditional garbs are splendid and the Parade stretches out for over a mile, the men sometimes breaking into Crow song and chant. This is truly unique and remarkable.
Every August, photographers from around the country flock to Crow Agency in Southern Montana to capture images of the Crow Fair Powwow.@savannah_maher caught up with a Crow Photographer named @singsintimber at this year’s event: https://t.co/yl9AahAT5x pic.twitter.com/3CBZ17om1D— Wyoming Public Radio (@WYPublicRadio) August 23, 2019
I found Crow/Cheyenne friends with which to spectate. And then, came a pickup float, inhabited by my granddaughters, both clad in lovely Crow garb. “Grandma, hop on! Parade with us,” they yelled. So, I did, a slightly weird looking participant, decorated by silver and a braid, not totally embarrassing to them, winding up on the opposite side of the camp, at least a mile from where I started. Mistake. “I’ll hop off here,” recognizing the Vic Singer Camp, where eventually another adopted Crow grandson, Rusty LaFrance and his sister Biance would show up, as did his Grandma, a good friend. Of course, you must eat at every Camp, the Crows ever gracious hosts. It was wonderful to see them all, but after an hour, I had to get back to the other camp. Another mistake. I have been to Crow Fair many times, but not on foot, wearing cowboy boots. It is a long stretch and after a while, all the camps look alike. During the trek which wound up taking a few hours, I discovered camps of other good friends, required to eat at each one, but no one seemed to know my destination, giving directions such as “Go down a quarter-mile, look to the creek and bushes. That might be it.”