WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – The Navajo Nation Fourth of July PRCA Rodeo is a big piece of giant celebration, and that’s just the way organizers want it.
The rodeo is a featured event associated with the Navajo Nation’s 28th annual celebration around the holiday. The fair will feature a Women’s Professional Rodeo Association-sanctioned junior barrel race, 10K run, wild horse race and an open Indian junior rodeo.
“I want to instill pride, honor and dignity for our young people, and rodeo is one way of helping build that foundation,” said Genevieve Tshoularkis, the fair manager. “We hope you will enjoy your summer holiday here with us.”
The rodeo is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, July 3-Saturday, July 5, at Dean C. Jackson Memorial Arena (because Window Rock is on the Navajo Nation, the kickoff each night will be during Mountain Standard Time; it is not the same as Arizona, which does not recognize Daylight Savings time). It is home to rodeo’s greatest stars, from world champion cowboys and cowgirls to the top stock in the country from Pete Carr Pro Rodeo.
“That rodeo has a very rich history, and I’m glad our crew can be part of it,” said Pete Carr, owner of the livestock firm. “I know there are some great rodeo fans there, and I hope we can put on the kind of show that they want to see over and over again.”
It seems to be working.
“The Navajo Nation as a whole … they love rodeo,” said T.J. Holgate, a former professional rodeo cowboy who volunteers for the annual event. “It’s probably the No. 1 sport out here. It’s a big thing. Most of the natives are agricultural, raising livestock. They’re farmers, outdoors people. They love good animals. They love to watch good competition. It’s just a component for what rodeo means to them.”
The passion is evident to everyone involved. There’s a certain electricity that builds across the Navajo Nation and into the arena.
“We just want the public to know that they can enjoy their Fourth of July holiday here on the Navajo Nation,” said Martin L. Begaye, the Navajo Nation department manager. “It is an honor to have so many outstanding champions from throughout the country to showcase their skills on the Navajo Nation.”
The rodeo will feature more than 400 entries, and all are battling for their share of the purse of about $200,000. The Navajo Nation is the only tribe in the country that hosts a Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association event. Many of those contestants are Navajo.
“It is especially exciting to see one of our own competing with the cream of the crop,” Begaye said. “The PRCA ProRodeo and the other events that we have planned are only a few activities that we hope entire families will enjoy.”