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All American Indian Days

The unique history of the All American Indian Days starts with Lucy Yellowmule, a sixteen year old high school student. A member of the Crow nation, Lucy was chosen as Rodeo Queen for the Sheridan WYO Rodeo in 1951. She changed history as the first Native American woman to hold this title. Yet, she and other Native people faced signage on Sheridan stores, such as “No Indians Served Here” and “No Dogs or Indians Allowed”. Howard Sinclair, a local journalist, and Lucy joined efforts to remove the signs with support from the Crow, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho people. The signs were removed and Sheridan received national awards for doing this.

The very first All American Indian Day began in 1953 with the purpose to eliminate racial discrimination against Native Americans. The pageant for Miss Indian America was the only event. Donald Deernose, Crow, was sent far and wide across Indian Country inviting Native people to Sheridan. Thousands of Natives, tourists and local residents attended until all ended in 1984.

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At All American Indian Days, Native people celebrated their traditions and cultures. Many camped in the iconic Tipi Village. Miss Indian America was selected and an award was given to an Outstanding Indian of the Year. People enjoyed social dancing, singing, horsemanship, foot races, artwork and tribal storytelling. Contests drew crowds to see lance throwing, bow and arrow shooting, tipi races, hide races and other athletic skills. There was a parade honoring the oldest Native persons, and a Sunday religious service with invited Native clergy and choirs.

The Master Sculptor of Mitakuye Oyasin, “We Are All Related”, is Jon DeCelles, a member of the Aaniiih (White Clay People) and Assiniboine Sioux tribes. Mitakuye Oyasin is made of Indiana limestone and stands eight feet tall on a four-foot base. The hoop at the top has traditional colors of white, yellow, red and black representing all the peoples of the world inharmony. Panels around the base tell the story of All American Indian Days, including the Tipi Village; the Outstanding Indian of the Year; and the Miss Indian America pageant. The featured panel is the meeting of Native Americans and non-Natives sharing a pipe in friendship as was done each evening during All American Indian Days.

All American Indian Days brought to life a vision that Native Americans and non-Natives could work in cooperation and in shared leadership. This Memorial honors the first inter-racial humanitarian project in Indian Country. The names of extraordinary volunteers from both races appear throughout this Memorial in the benches, pavers, and signage. On October 9, 2023, the Honoring Project gave this Memorial as a gift to the City of Sheridan, Wyoming.

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