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The Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) were held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from October 31 to November 3, 1996. For the first time in its history, the event crossed the American border and was held in Canada as part of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) 50th Anniversary celebrations.
The INFR was established in 1975 to give Aboriginal cowboys the recognition that they deserved. The contest is the World Championships for these talented contestants. The INFR made its home in Albuquerque, New Mexico until last year when it was held in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Saskatchewan was chosen as the site for 1996 following a successful bid proposal by the FSIN. Earlier this year, a contingent of FSIN Executive Members traveled to Oklahoma backed by a substantial prize payout package and corporate and government support. Clem McSpadden, General Manager of the INFR, says that the FSIN's bid proposal was impressive and, "they have more than delivered."
Delivery of the package was contingent upon corporate sponsorship and Saskatchewan businesses met the challenge. Major sponsorship came from Nelson Homes and the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority. Sasktel, CJWW, Labatt's, Pepsi, Confederation Bingo and the FSIN also made substantial contributions.
The support of these companies produced the largest prize payoff in the history of the INFR. In addition to cash prizes, saddles and buckles valued at $20,000 and additional merchandise valued at $30,000 brought the total payoff to over $200,000.
The size of the payoff was motivation for contestants from the 12 regional rodeo associations across the United States and Canada. Each association holds its own finals in September or October in saddle bronc riding, bareback bronc riding, bull riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, team roping, ladies barrel racing and ladies breakaway roping. The top two competitors from each event qualify for the INFR.
The Kick-Off for the INFR was held on October 30, 1996 and was attended by Clem McSpadden, FSIN Chief Blaine Favel, ViceChief Eugene Arcand, representatives of the corporate sponsors and by the cowboys and cowgirls.
Competition began on Friday, November 1, 1996 and continued throughout the weekend. When the dust settled, Jay Lyle Louis of Vernon, British Columbia had captured the title of All Around Cowboy. Louis placed second in the saddle bronc riding competition and partnered with Jay Crawler from Morley, Alberta to compete in team roping. Louis takes home a brand-new pick-up truck in addition to his cash prizes.
Lesa Arnold of Pryor, Oklahoma rode her way to the All Around Cowgirl title. Arnold won the ladies barrel racing event and placed third in ladies breakaway roping. In addition to her cash prizes, she won a Championship horse trailer.
In bareback bronc riding, Kenton Randle of Fort Vermillion, Alberta won with a four event time of 303 (76-70-84-73). Randle came out of retirement to compete in the first INFR to be held in Canada. Also notable in the bareback competition was second place winner Curtis Taypotat of Broadview, Saskatchewan.
Taypotat was one of four Saskatchewan competitors and the only one to place in an event.
Spike Guardipee of Browning, Montana won the calf roping competition with a four-round time of 45.2 seconds. Steer wrestling was won by Howard Edmundson of Dewar, Oklahoma with a four-day time of 20.1 seconds.
Smiley Sierra of Kyle South Dakota took home the title of World Champion Bull Rider. His four-event total was 303 (74-79-77-73). With a four-event time of 36.5 seconds, Dee Keener of Inola, Oklahoma and Joel Maker of Tahlequan, Oklahoma won the team roping competition. The World Champion Ladies Breakaway Roping title went to Whisper Alexander of Bozeman, Montana.
Regional results saw the cowboys and cowgirls of the All Indian Rodeo Association of Oklahoma earn 772 points and first place standing. The Great Plains Indian Rodeo Association placed second with 733.5 points and the United Indian Rodeo Association came in third with 649 points.
The sportsmanship and talent of all of the cowboys and cowgirls of the INFR contributed to making the competition unforgettable for family, friends and fans. Spectators, organizers and competitors alike are calling the 1996 Indian National Finals Rodeo the best ever.
|4th||Harold Blyan||281||$ 350|
|4th||Mike Brown||281||$ 350|
|2nd||Jay L. Louis||288||$2,100|
|4th||Ramos Benny||266||$ 700|
|3rd||C. L. Johnson||224||$1,400|
|4th||Dale Wagner||214||$ 700|
|3rd||Jay B. Lytle||52.3||$1,400|
|4th||Ed Holyan||52.7||$ 700|
|4th||Traci Vaile||59.23||$ 700|
|2nd||Traci Vaile||6.9||$ 859.99|
|3rd||Lesa Arnold||7.3||$ 573.33|
|4th||Shannon Williams||9.6||$ 286.67|
|4th||Jay Bob Lytle||39.8||$ 691.66|
|1st||Dee Keener & Joel Maker||36.5||$2,800 each|
|2nd||Don Bettelyoun & Terry Fischer||40.8||$2,100 each|
|3rd||Rudy Yazzie & Alfonso Begay||43.8||$1,400 each|
|4th||Victor Begay & James Begay||47.0||$ 700 each|