Devin Killsback (Northern Cheyenne) spins her shawl during a fancy dance at the First People's Powwow at the Sheridan Inn on Thursday, July 9, 2015. The event was staged as part of Sheridan WYO Rodeo week. (Gregory Nickerson/WyoFile)

SHERIDAN — The sound of Northern Cheyenne flute music drifted over the green lawn of the Sheridan Inn, holding the powwow audience in rapt silence in a scene perhaps reminiscent of Indian dances staged here 100 years ago.

When the flute player and powwow emcee Jay Old Mouse finished the tune, he called for men seated around a rawhide drum to begin another song. Dancers filed onto the lawn wearing regalia decorated with ribbons, feathers, and beads as they stepped in rhythm with drums and high throated singing.

Many of the dancers were young — ranging from toddlers to teenagers and young adults.

For the second year running, the Sheridan Inn hosted the First People’s Powwow last week as part of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo celebrations. Members of the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Northern Arapaho, Oglala Lakota and other tribes participated in dances throughout the week.

The Inn also hosted the second Miss Indian America Reunion luncheon on Thursday. The event reintroduced Sheridan to past winners of the pageant, which was staged here as part of All-American Indian Days from 1953 to 1984.

A color guard of Crow veterans led the Native American portion of the Sheridan WYO Rodeo Parade on Friday, July 10, 2015. (Gregory Nickerson/WyoFile)

The Crow tribe also came out in force for the rodeo parade Friday, with hundreds of dancers riding flatbeds in full regalia, and a color guard of four horse-mounted veterans in traditional clothing, carrying American flags.

Together the events continued a recent resurgence in Native American activity at the Sheridan WYO Rodeo. More than 100 years ago, the Sheridan Inn played host to tribal dancers from Montana reservations to create a “Wild West” atmosphere to entertain residents and tourists arriving on the Burlington railroad.

That appeal endures today, where one powwow audience member in the crowded stands remarked that organizers will need more bleachers next year.

Sodizin Medicine Bull (Northern Cheyenne, Navajo, and Arapaho) spins a hoop during while wearing grass dance regalia during the First People’s Powwow at the Sheridan Inn Thursday. The 10-year old dancer is from Ashland, Montana. (Gregory Nickerson/WyoFile)
The Sheridan Inn hosted the second Miss Indian America reunion on Thursday, after an initial event in 2013. FRONT ROW (L to R): Arlene Wesley (Yakima), Miss Indian America 1953; Annita Jo Wolf Black, daughter representing Brenda Bearchum (Northern Cheyenne-Yakima), MIA 1961; Williamette Youpee (Sisseton-Yankton Sioux), MIA 1963; Sharon Ahtone Harjo (Kiowa) MIA 1965; Sarah Johnson Luther (Navajo) MIA 1967; Deana Harragarra Waters (Kiowa-Otoe), MIA 1976. BACK ROW (L to R): 1954 Miss Indian America runner-up Annie Grace Strange Owl (Northern Cheyenne); Jewel Medicine Horse Williams (Crow), secretary to Howard Sinclair, founder of Miss Indian America pageant and All-American Indian Days. (Gregory Nickerson/WyoFile)
Tayzlee Other Medicine (Crow), age 1 of Crow Agency, Montana, dances with her mother at the First People’s Powwow at the Sheridan Inn on Thursday. (Gregory Nickerson/WyoFile)
Tayler Factor (Seminole) of Lame Deer, Montana, smiles between dances at the First People’s Powwow at the Sheridan Inn on Thursday. (Gregory Nickerson/WyoFile)
Crow dancers participate in a round dance during the First People’s Powwow at the Sheridan Inn on Thursday. Round dances are considered “social” and invite men and women to dance together, often with audience members joining in. (Gregory Nickerson/WyoFile)

Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

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  1. Thank You Gregory for doing a wonderful job the article and pictures are wonderful!

    Annita Wolf Black