“Dualah, welcome,” Crow royalty said Friday as they overlooked the balcony at the new arbor.
If you’ve never been, there is so much history and culture to soak in, no matter where you're from.
“You’re welcome at my camp. Come over and we’ll have a good time,” says Shawn Backbone, who is the 2023 elected Crow Fair Pow Wow Manager.
Backbone manages the largest Native American encampment in the world, boasting about 1,500 teepees. In fact, Crow Fair is known as the teepee capitol of the world, but many who live in Montana haven’t seen it in person.
“We wanted to invite the people in Yellowstone County, Big Horn County, all the local counties around us, so come see us,” says Backbone.
The view from Backbone’s camp is a front-row seat, with a daily parade going by at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“Get here at nine,” recommends Backbone. “Find a good parking space, the bombs will go off. The bombs are real loud and that starts everything.”
"The Crow way of life is a unique culture. We decorate our horses in beadwork, and we make them look nice,” says Macariah Pine, Miss Crow Fair 2023.
The parade is about an hour and a half and it’s just the start to a full day of immersing yourself in Crow culture and history, an annual tradition in its 104th year that used to be very different.
“Crow Fair was not a pow wow, it was not this,” says Dy Anna Three Irons, Crow Fair finance manager and royalty coordinator. “At that time, it was early reservation when they wanted Native Americans to become farmers. They were forced to become farmers. They wanted them to become civil and wanted them to display their crops.”
The produce exhibit evolved into what you’ll see today, an incredible display of pride aimed at keeping Crow culture alive, and it is led by a dozen Crow princesses.
“The grand entry at the powwow is probably one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see,” says Pine.
The grand entry features various men, women and children's powwow dance categories like hot dance and fancy feather, all with big prize money.
“Hello everybody my name is Dorothea Scalpcane, 2023 Tiny Tot Crow Nation Princess, and I invite you all to come watch the crow hop dance,” says Dorothea Scalpcane.
“It’s unique dancing and that’s the only place you can see it is here, so hope you all come,” says Debra Don’t Mix, Miss Big Horn District Princess.
It’s an experience truly unlike any other.
“I can say a lot, but you’re going to have to come see it for yourself and enjoy it and then you have your own story,” says Backbone.