Sunday, October 16, 2016

Crow Agency Fair

Looking up inside a teepee
Each year, during the third weekend in August, thousands gather at Crow Agency, MT for a 4 day festival of dance, music, rodeo, and huge reunion.   This year was the third time I have attended.  The first time Lin and I were in our motorhome, traveling in Montana when other RVers told us about the event.  We went, parking on the event grounds thinking we would be there for a day or two.  We stayed until the Monday morning following the event and delighted in being awakened by a sunrise chant, albeit from the speaker of a car driving around the grounds.  We went to sleep to the beat, in the distance, as dance competitions lasted well into the night.

A couple years ago I went with a fellow Yellowstone employee.  We spent one night in the nearby town but were able to watch dance competitions, watch the daily parade, and enjoy the event.

This year, Chris flew into Billings where I met him.  We spent time at the fair, enjoying the pow wow, wandering the grounds filled with teepees, tents, rvs, people in beautiful regalia, horses and people on horseback, kids, elders and everyone in between.  We enjoyed eating, photographing, and talking with folks.  We also made a side-trip to the Battle of the Little Bighorn National Historic Site.  Here are some photos of our couple of days in the area.

 There are over a thousand teepees on the grounds.  Families stay there, in current day tents, and RVs.  Brush covered ramadas provide shady areas for family meals and socializing.  A large, grassed arena with bleacher seating and space for folding chairs on the grass around the dance area is the central gathering place.  According to Wikipedia, this gathering is "currently the largest Northern Native American gathering, attracting 45,000 participants and spectators."

While it is big, it certainly did not feel like 45,000 people.  Since there seemed to be no main entrance station and people came and went all day, no admission fee (although there was a fee to take photos that we paid at the announcers booth), I am not sure how this number is determined.  It was a large multi-generational gathering with a friendly atmosphere is all I can tell you.

Like every gathering these days, cell phones are ubiquitos


Each day's festivities begins with an honor guard made up of service members from the Crow Nation.  This year special honor was paid to the women who have served.


Horses are an important part of life and important at the Fair.  This young man invited us to get photos of his new horse, the first he has owned.

Nearby is the Battle of the Little Big Horn National Monument.  We did a tour with a local guide and then spent some time photographing the site.  As always, the best photos were taken as the light got good, just before the monument closed.  A ranger called to a few stragglers like us, to remind us that the park was closing.

Scenery of the region where Custer and his calvary fought and lost.  

Two Whistles was one of the scouts killed in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

You can click on the first photo in this blog entry to go thru the photos, larger, as a gallery.  Its an easier way to view the photos, although the captions won't show.