Powwow honors former Miss Indian America winners

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — All week, the Sheridan WYO Rodeo has been celebrating First Nations culture with powwows, a teepee raising and events honoring former Miss Indian America winners.

Today's dances featured Northern Cheyenne and Crow-style traditions. The Crow Song Dogs formed a drum circle at 3 p.m., and women danced in colorful dresses adorned with elk teeth, which traditionally signified a woman's husband's hunting prowess, the speakers said. Men wore feathered headdresses and bells.

Traditionally, Crow men would wear a "war shirt," a garment only worn by soldiers after returning from combat — First Nations men who have returned from Afghanistan or Iraq are afforded the honor of wearing the shirt today.

Far left, the war shirt. 

Sheridan is also home to the Miss Indian America Reunion, honoring women who participated in the pageants, which began as a way to improve race relations during Sheridan WYO Rodeo in 1953, and continued until 1985.

Today's events featured former Miss Indian Americas including Deana Harragarra Waters, Miss Indian America 1976, and Susan Arkeketa, Miss Indian America 1978, and a luncheon event with Bethany Yellowtail, owner of b.Yellowtail, a fashion design company based in Los Angeles.

Friday, hundreds of dancers and drum teams in full regalia will perform at the Sheridan Inn at noon, following the Rodeo Parade. The event is free and open to the public. See more event photos below.