For some Native Americans particularly those who belong to federally unrecognized tribes without reservations rodeos offer a way to stay connected to their culture and community
Rodeo is everywhere in Keira Simonsons life. Its in the 22-year-olds kitchen as a team picture pinned to the fridge. Its hanging in her bathroom as a horse-themed towel. Its decorating her truck floor as muddy boots with spurs attached. Its her weekends and her escape.
As an enrolled member of the more than 4,500-strong Little Shell Chippewa Tribe of Montana which was, until recently, federally unrecognized and without a designated reservation Simonson often felt removed from the larger Native American community and its culture. But rodeos have become her way of staying connected.
Its just something I crave to constantly be going to another one, she says.