South Dakota Relay Announced

New venue for Indian Relay Races

BILLINGS, Mont. – The Professional Indian Horse Racing Association (PIHRA) announced today that they are moving to Rapid City! PIHRA and Black Hills Speedway have partnered to develop Indian Relay into a major event in Rapid City. The contract was signed August 9, 2016 between Ed Kirchoff of Black Hills Speedway and Calvin and Carla Ghost Bear of the Oglala Lakota Tribe of Pine Ridge, SD, and Gary Fellers and Jeanette Sassoon of PIHRA. The first race will take place October 7-9, 2016 and will be held in conjunction with the Black Hills PowWow a major attraction for Rapid City which draws thousands to their convention center.

Says Ghost Bear, “Indian relay is part of our heritage, part of our culture. Part of the PIHRA mission is to bring people together. It is an honor for us to share this sport with our friends and neighbors of Rapid City.”  A local charity will be chosen as beneficiary of funds raised at the event.

The popularity of Indian Relay is growing with over 50 teams are competing for points to qualify for the All Nations Indian Relay Championships scheduled for September 22-15 in Billings, Montana. Rapid City is a center of commerce to many of the Sioux nation and the Black Hills PowWow is an important event which resulted in PIHRA’s director’s decision to feature Indian Relay Races. Black Hills PowWow and PIHRA have agreed to coordinate and support each other’s events which results in a great opportunity for visitors and locals alike.

PIHRA attracts a broad crowd of Native Americans and all cultures who marvel at the athleticism of these Native warriors as they race bareback, in native regalia, leaping from one horse at a full gallop and flying onto another. Each team consists of one rider, two holders and a mugger and three race horses who can obtain speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. Many call Indian relay the world’s first extreme sport and certainly it is universally acclaimed as one of the most exciting and challenging competitions.

This announcement comes on the heels of the successful completion of the first of three Sioux-centric Indian Relays being held in surrounding communities. The first was last weekend in Pine Ridge where record crowds and 13 teams competed for over $16,000 in prize money. The weekend of August 18-20 brings teams to Lower Brule and the following week to Baker, Montana and the same week-end to Crow Fair in Crow Agency, Montana. At each of these Sanctioned Races teams earn points to qualify for the Championships coming up in Billings in September.

The All Nations Indian Relay Championships will be held Sept 22-25 at the historic MetraPark Grandstands in Billings, Mont. More than 30 elite teams representing 15 Indian nations will compete at the 2016 All Nations Championships for more than $75,000 in money, prizes, expenses, and the coveted Champions’ Jackets and Belt Buckles. The teams come from Washington State, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Montana, South Dakota, and Canada. The tribes represented in relay include Oglala Lakota Sioux, Lower Brule Sioux, Eagle Butte Sioux, Northern Cheyenne, Blackfeet, Crow, Shoshone-Bannock, Eastern Shoshone, Nez Perce, Nakota, the Colville Confederated Tribes and the Umatilla Confederated Tribes. The vision of the teams and the entire membership is for relay to become a viable cultural and economic entity.

Gary Fellers of PIHRA added, “We are expecting over 25,000 people in Billings this year. Last year over 20,000 attended our first year event and were asking for more. People attended from 23 states and several different countries around the globe. Please join us in Billings and Rapid City as well.”

For more information about PIHRA and the All Nations Indian Relay Championships, visit www.LetsRelay.com, follow “Professional Indian Horse Racing Association” on Facebook or checkout Indian Relay videos on www.letsrelay.com.

  • For reservations and tickets, contact the MetraPark Grandstands box office at 800-366-8538 or 406-256-2422 or go to www.indianrelay.com.
  • For press information, visit www.adventuremedianews.com or call Nancy Harrison at 307-421-4473.
  • For event information go to www.LetsRelay.com
  • Sponsorships and advertising: contact Gary Fellers – sponsors@letsrelay.com

For more information, visit www.letsrelay.com and follow the Relay Race Season on Facebook www.facebook.com/pages/Professional-Indian-Horse-Racing-Association/476531622450149.

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PIHRA MISSION 

The Professional Indian Horse Racing Association (PIHRA) was founded to promote Indian Relay, horsemanship and safety. PIHRA has developed a season-long series of sanctioned relay races that culminate in the annual All Nations Indian Relay Championships. PIHRA is an association of teams, individuals, and sponsors who participate in the sport of Indian relay racing. There about 50 teams from the northern plains Indian country that participate. Only the top 30 teams are selected to attend three days of qualifying rounds to determine the six teams that will advance to the finals. The mission of PIHRA is to bring the fun, excitement, passion and heritage of Indian Horse Racing to a broader audience. Through this process, PIHRA will strive to provide a safe and fair environment for the team participants, their horses, and the event spectators. The PIHRA vision is that Indian Relay can provide a positive economic and cultural model for Native American relay teams and their families moving forward into today’s world while preserving the past.

ORIGINS OF RELAY

Indian relay is America’s oldest sport. It dates back over 400 years to when the horse was first re-introduced to the native cultures of the America’s. Lakota culture insists that this was in fact the second coming of the horse and its reintroduction and in fact the relationship to the plains cultures and the horse is perhaps much older than that is realized. Archeology seems to support that view.

It appears that Indian relay developed independently amongst the Indian nations. Different cultures have different oral histories of its origins and most likely they are all true representations. To one tribe, relay was used as war games, to another, a relay strategy to hunt the buffalo, to another, a way to outrun the wild horses to enable their capture. Whatever the origins of relay the importance of it and of the horse to the plains cultures cannot be understated. The horse was transportation, it provided sustenance, it provided protection. The horse was considered sacred by many native cultures and revered by all. It was a major source of status and a most sought after prize. Relay provided the measure to test the horse, the rider, and the team.

Indian Relay is also America’s oldest competition, it’s first and most exciting test of skill. Today Indian relay is resurging as America’s newest extreme sport. Warriors racing at lightning speed, leaping from one galloping horse and flying onto another, defying fear and gravity; displaying the ultimate bond of horse and rider, when the two become one.

Professional Indian Horse Racing Association

Media Contact: Nancy Harrison

nharrison@adventuremedianews.com

307.421.4473

Photo credit: Diana Volk

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