A Way of Life

America’s Horse features Native American rodeo athletes in its October issue. Here, meet a woman who brings the sport of rodeo to fans within the Navajo Nation and beyond.

AQHA Media

“I remember in the good ol’ days, rodeo was an open-range competition. The eastern side of the Navajo Nation would put its best cowboy up against the best cowboy on the western side, and that is how the competition started. Today, rodeo is a professional sport and really a business for many Native Americans,” LA Williams says.

LA was raised on a Navajo reservation near Holbrook, Arizona, and says during her childhood in the 1970s, rodeo, horses, cattle and sheep were how her family made their living.

“We not only used horses for rodeo, but they were often our means of transportation,” she says. “Horses bring back memories of home for me, and I think the same is true for many other Native Americans. Regardless of their age, tribe or upbringing, horses are special to Native Americans. They are part of our heritage and not a new trend for our culture.”

While LA was actively competing, she won her fair share in the rodeo arena barrel racing and was one of the first Native American women to compete in the roping events. Although she occasionally team ropes with her nephews for fun, these days she stays involved with the sport through her career as a bilingual sportscaster who brings the sport of rodeo to the Navajo Nation and beyond.

“I have interviewed many of the Navajo rodeo athletes, and all of those athletes who are winning are living and breathing rodeo every single day,” she says. “You can’t just pick up a rope and say, ‘I think I might win today.’ Rodeo is much more intense than that. You have to have the best horses and you have to meet them more than halfway as far as your athletic training. The sport of rodeo is just going to continue to grow and improve, and we will see more and more Native American athletes competing at the national level.”

To learn more about some of the rodeo competitors LA has interviewed, don’t miss the October issue of America’s Horse where freelance writer Lindsay Keller talks with Native American athletes Kassidy Denison, Aaron Tsinigine, Dustin Bird and Derrick Begay about horses, rodeo and their heritage.

America’s Horse is AQHA’s exclusive member magazine, delivered in print and digitally 10 times a year to keep members informed, entertained and in touch with their Association.

Other highlights from the October America’s Horse include:

•    Celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary by planning a “dream vacation” trail ride.
•    Meet Julie Chapman, the Steel Dust Award-winning artist featured in the America’s Horse in Art Show & Sale.
•    Have you ever seen horses and riders going through a Dairy Queen drive-through? It’s not an uncommon sight in Amarillo.
•    Sage Remarks is a regular end-of-the-book feature with witty and wise quotations that are perfect for posting on the refrigerator or tack room door.
•    Another regular staple, Hitching Posts, is a compilation of the best Quarter Horse-related posts on social media.

To learn more about America’s Horse or to join AQHA so you won’t miss another issue, go to www.aqha.com/americashorse.