Top Indian relay racing teams prepare for major event in Montana

Romey Birdinground, riding for Alligator Creek, at the Professional Indian Horse Racing Association Buffalo Days Indian Relay in June 2016. Photo by Diana Volk

The fourth annual All Nations Indian Relay is only a week away.

The Professional Indian Horse Racing Association has invited the top relay race teams from the United States and Canada to the four-day event in Billings, Montana. Only the best six teams will advance to the finals in hopes of winning the coveted championship title. More than $75,000 in cash prizes are also up for grabs.

"Teams from all major Horse Nations will compete for the biggest purse ever offered for an Indian relay event drawing record-breaking crowds," the organization said on Thursday. Teams from six states, plus Canada, and riders representing nearly a dozen tribes are expected.

Omak Express, consisting of members of the Colville Tribes from Washington, are the reigning All Nations Indian Relay champions. But the team won't be competing next week after rider Tyler Peasley suffered serious injuries last month.

"We will be back," the team said on Thursday.

The Indian relay race community also suffered the untimely death of Hermis Janis Tall, who was part of the award-winning Brew Crew, consisting of members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. He was 25 years old when he passed away last month.

The All Nations Indian Relay takes place September 22-25 at MetraPark Grandstands in Billings.

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