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Reflecting on outrageous bigotry

Dear Editor:
Although I have been aware of Tim Giago’s publications for many years and often read his good articles while in public office, I only recently signed up for a personal subscription to Native Sun News Today. I like to keep up with what’s going on in Indian Country and Native Sun News Today is a one good way to do it.
I write to express my concerns about some outrageous bigotry I recently heard on television. I often watch rodeos and recently saw a clip of the Sheridan-WYO rodeo, the biggest one held in that western town during the years, drawing tourists and visitors from around the world. Since I missed the opening, it was not clear what year it was, but very recent.
That rodeo includes a big Indian Relay Race and is very close to both the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. Since my good friend Leroy Whiteman, now passed, had a champion Indian relay team, once winning the National Championship at that very rodeo, I like to watch that sport. It is very exciting, dangerous and the jockeys seem to be all very young and athletic. I’m told that face-paced and high packed sport has become a top draw, bringing in considerable gate proceeds, also very profitable for the hosting community. All the teams and spectators rent hotel rooms, eat at cafes, buy gas, etc., It would be interesting to know the economic impact of those events and the Indian people who participate in them.
I was dismayed at the way the announcer talked. He made several remarks that were completely outrageous towards Indians, some of the most bigoted remarks I’ve ever heard. I can quote them word-by-word. “When the young Indians used to come to town they wanted to find a white woman. Now they want to find a fast horse,” he said as if it were a big joke.
When some tourists asked if it was safe to travel across the Crow Reservation, especially at night, that same announcer said “Yes, it’s safe. The Indians lying in the road are not dead, they are just drunk”.
I didn’t catch the announcer’s name, but I can’t believe how he represented one of the largest rodeos in Wyoming. Surely, not all the people in Sheridan, WY agree with those sentiments about Indians – most are probably tolerant, hard-working and decent people. I think that announcer, who spoke in such a bad, rude and racist way should be replaced.
We all know that many of our young Native youth struggle with self-esteem and are sometimes reluctant to leave the reservation. In an atmosphere like that, it’s no wonder.

Ben Nighthorse Campbell
PO Box 639
St. Ignacio, CO 81137

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