The Munjal Family experiences Indian Country’s tribal culture through a traditional sport
HELENA, Mont., May 9, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — “Indian Relay is a true test of horsemanship,” shares Wayne Smith, Blackfeet Tribal Member. “It’s something that has progressed in contemporary times to a highly competitive sport…it’s really exciting for people who haven’t seen it. This has been a part of Montana forever.”
In Racing with Tradition, Sarah Munjal and her three children attend the Indian Relay Championships. This regional competition focuses on the rich tradition of the sport for indigenous tribes, and the important role horses play in their culture. The event includes customary pow wows where dancers moved to rhythmic drumbeats dressed in colorful, intricate clothing representing their heritage.
Racing with Tradition is episode 28 in the Discover Your #MontanaMoment video series and it can be viewed at VISITMT.COM.
“We try to teach our kids about other cultures and the way people live,” shares Sarah as the music moves the dancers in front of them. “I’m glad they got to hear the music and feel the beats.”
Indian Relay is a sport that dates back generations for many tribes. Each tribe takes pride in competing in this race, sending teams of talented jockeys, horses and “muggers.” The muggers are team members that stand on foot and are responsible for capturing and holding the racing horses for the next jockey to mount quickly and safely. From the moment the jockey leaps on the restless horse, to the moment they jump off to board the next horse, everything is about timing, precision and skill. They race without saddles, just as generations did before.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” comments Sarah as the different relay teams race around the track. “It was really awesome to see the pride that they had, or the kids that were out there carrying on traditions of their culture.”
Montana has many opportunities to experience, explore and learn about tribal culture and history. Indian Relays take place at many events around the state; such as the North American Indian Days or the 100th Anniversary of the Crow Fair and Rodeo. You’ll feel the celebration and heritage through dance and drums at pow wows like the Rocky Boy’s Annual Pow Wow or the Arlee 4th of July Celebration and Pow Wow.
For a historic perspective, you can visit the locations of history’s important Indian wars, like the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument or the Bear Paw Battlefield. Museums like the Museum of the Plains Indian or the Poplar Museumare the perfect opportunity to learn about tribal history and culture by viewing art, photographs and other relics from Montana’s tribes.
“Many times we felt like we had to travel outside of the country to experience another culture,” says Sarah. “But the beauty of Montana is that you can do it within the United States.”
The experience with tribal culture Sarah and her children enjoyed is just one opportunity to discover your #MontanaMoment. Find more ideas for a family fun trip, including visiting Indian Country, learning history, and experiencing cultural events like pow wows or Indian Relays.