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PRCA ‘Home of the Navajo’ Rodeo returns to Window Rock in May

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

Rodeo is a world-renowned sport and way of life on the Navajo Nation. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, or PRCA, will soon return to Window Rock at the end of May instead of the Fourth of July weekend.

Last week, it was announced during a press conference in the Nation’s capital at the Window Rock Tribal Park and Veterans Memorial that this year’s theme is “Home of the Navajo.”

Professional rodeo athletes Erich Rodgers, Aaron Tsingine, Tara Seaton, and JaCauy Hale were special guests that Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren took a moment to recognize as role models for the largest reservation in all of Indian Country.

“You guys just amaze us, every single day. We all dream we could be cowboys and cowgirls like you,” said Nygren. “You really bring a lot of hope and inspiration, and to bring PRCA to Navajoland, is gonna make it even more exciting.”

Mike Halona is director of the Division of Natural Resources for the Navajo Nation. He hand-picked the Cervi Championship Rodeo Company to provide livestock for this summer’s competition at the Navajo Nation Fairgrounds’ Dean C. Jackson Memorial Arena along State Highway 264 in Window Rock.

Halona shared that the Colorado-based rodeo company is “bringing in top, top stock to be able to perform at this rodeo, and gonna put on the production like we’ve never seen before.”

Those same animals recently attended Rodeo Houston, the world’s largest livestock show. And Binion Cervi of the Cervi Championship Rodeo Company explained that now they need to rest before their eventual departure to Dinétah.

“They’ve been on the road for three months,” said Cervi, “but I can promise you that their next stop is going to be in Window Rock.”

Traditionally, the week of July 4 is when the most rodeo money is available for athletes, and a seasonal time affectionately called "Cowboy Christmas." The Fourth of July is typically one of the busiest weekends for rodeo nationwide, and usually when this uniquely Navajo competition occurred, until now.

The Cowboy Channel is also scheduled to televise the three days of action, and the purse for each category has been increased by $10,000 to help attract competitors and spectators to the Navajo Nation.

“Moving the dates, that prize money,” added Cervi, “I just hope you got enough parking space because there's going to be a lot of cowboys coming in.”

Gabriel Pietrorazio is a correspondent who reports on tribal natural resources for KJZZ.