CROW AGENCY — At the teepee capital of the world, generations of families have come together for the Crow Fair to celebrate and keep their traditions alive.
Mary Howe Not Afraid has attended the Crow Fair her entire life. She’s the official pan bread cook at her family’s camp.
“I learned how to make this from my older sister,” Howe Not Afraid said on Sunday.
Howe Not Afraid paired pan bread with sausage gravy for the family to eat for brunch.
“When we wake up we start cooking. And then when we’re done cooking breakfast we start cooking lunch. And after lunch, we start with supper,” said Howe Not Afraid.
Over 30 of her family members are camped out at the Crow Fair this year. Her father, Robert “Sargie” Howe has attended for over 50 years.
“We want to keep our own culture going, our own language, our ideology, and our beliefs. We want to make sure that a lot of that is retained to some extent,” said Howe.
Part of the tradition is the setup of teepees at campsites. 12-year-old Macey Hogan gave a tour of her teepee.
“The teepee poles probably took like forty minutes. And then putting this on, we put it on right after, so that takes 20 minutes.” Hogan said.
It takes hours to set up a single teepee. Hogan and the other grandkids shaved the teepee poles before they were put up.
“It comes off of a tree that we cut down and we have to, like, take off the knots off of the tree,” said Hogan.
That’s just one aspect of the Crow Fair. Parades and powwows are a huge part of the nearly week-long event. Ashley Good Luck showed some of her parade regalia.
“This here is my elk tooth dress made up of wool and elk teeth. There’s probably about 300 of them on here,” Good Luck said.
Leggings, belts, hats, jewelry, and moccasins are all beaded by hand.
“Every time I go to a powwow or contest, this is what I wear,” said Good Luck.
Getting the family together is cause for celebration, but they’re also remembering those who have passed. 29-year-old Ferlin Blacksmith was killed in a car accident in 2020. He was a talented Indian Relay rider.
“He wasn’t just a rider, he was a horseman,” said his sister, Shanelle Hogan.
Hogan and her brother, Deandre Blacksmith, are also part of Indian Relay race teams. Ferlin taught them everything they know and they’re grateful they can pass it along to the younger generation.
“We’re just trying to send it off to the next generation and make sure that the kids know about this. It’s not just competition, it's family, it’s fun,” Shanelle Hogan said.
Just a little sliver of one family’s experience as they celebrate their culture at the Crow Fair.