Apsaalooke Nation celebrates the Centennial Crow Fair
BAAXAWUAASHE (Crow Agency, MT) – Crow Fair is the annual celebration of the Apsaalooke (Crow) people. This year was very significant because it was the Centennial celebration. Crow Fair is the largest Native American event in Montana. It is one of the most unique events in Indian Country consisting of a powwow, rodeo, Indian relay, parades, a 5K run, and many other events.
Crow Fair takes place at the heart of the Crow Indian Reservation in Crow Agency, MT. Crow Agency is known as the Teepee Capital of the World, because it is the largest encampment of teepees at one time. As many as 1,800 have been constructed in a year.
Each morning begins with a Camp Crier waking up the Crow Fair encampment. He only speaks Crow language. In his oratory, he tells everyone to wake up, he speaks about the history of the Apsaalooke, and anything he has on his heart. Depending on who the Camp Crier is, he may be on horseback or driving a truck with a PA system. It is one of the most notable sounds of the Crow Fair.
Thursday is known as Crow Night and is technically the kick off for Crow Fair. All Crow Dancers will showcase their dances at Thursday night’s powwow. First time dancer ceremonies and most giveaways will also take place. Usually over 500 teepees will be setup by this time. Vendors will be set up booths, friend and family will reconnect and Crow Fair will be in full force.
Friday through Sunday, there is a parade that goes throughout the campgrounds. The one of the most beautiful sights during Chichiaxxaawasuua. During the cold months, Apsaalooke women work on beadwork for family and friends. When Crow Fair comes around, it is each respective family’s time to showcase their beadwork and art. Most of the participants in the parade ride horseback. The Apsaalooke people have a deep connection with the horse. The Crow Fair also hosts an Indian Relay competition. This fast paced, action packed competition brings in quite the crowd at Real Bird Arena.
Sunday is when most visitors will leave Crow Fair. Non-Crow Style categories will finish their powwow contests. Non-Crow competitors will also finish their rodeo competitions. There are other things to do in Crow Agency during this time. Most visitors will visit the Little Bighorn Battle Field, others will visit trading posts in the area, or some will cool off in the Little Big Horn River.
Some families will break camp on Sunday, but Crow Fair continues on with Crow Day on Monday. A parade dance is held beginning around high noon. Only Crow Dancers will partake in this event. Dancers line up in a parade style and dance throughout the camp making four stops. The Parade dance concludes by the dancers entering the powwow arena. It is the Apsaalooke way of welcoming in the new year.
I highly recommend everyone to make the trip to beautiful Crow Country for the annual Crow Fair Celebration. Bring your camping gear and a camera to enjoy the Crow Fair. It issomething most people never forget. So, come on out to the 101 th Annual Crow Fair Celebration August 15 th – 19 th. Aho!
ABOUT THE WRITER Biiluukaa balashe Isbaaliichiwee Baatchaachish huuk. Bii Apsaalooke. My name is Jay Fife. I am an enrolled member of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation. I am also of Apsaalooke and Chickasaw descent. I am a freshman at Yale University studying linguistics. Jay is a recent recipient of UNITY’s 25 Under 25 Award program in recognition for his exemplary character and servant leadership.