I'm from a long line of horsemen, cattlemen and rodeo cowboys. As a kid, Native Americans came from all over the west to trade quarter horses with my father, Marv Dunbar. Dressed in colorful regalia, they proudly participated in both the Cache County and Box Elder rodeo, many parades, Pioneer Days, etc. Where they all gone?
The Box Elder County rodeo showcased the usual rodeo events, but there were no Native Americans in ceremonial feathers and elk skin! Instead, after the final event, there were (from Oklahoma) guys on 2-stroke dirt bikes doing stunts that had nothing to do with the traditional ranch chores linked with branding cattle and calves, and working livestock. These obnoxious machines and motocross folks had nothing to do with or related to the cowboy lifestyle. The dirt bikes sounded like a mad bee in a band aid box. We don't herd cattle on them. Not even the horses liked them. When I asked a rodeo official who was part of planning the show, how and why the inappropriate two-stroke motorcycles got in a traditional Western rodeo he said: "The public demands them." What he meant to say was: "We can sell more tickets!"
My dad was a 7-year all around champion of Utah Hall of Fame Cowboy. Daddy was part of the "Cowboy Turtles Assn.", forerunner to the PRCA (pro-rodeo cowboys association). He would have, along with other real cowboys, never allowed rodeo to be infiltrated and tainted by this outrage. Rodeos were not ever meant to be for revenue raising for the county commissions, but for skills on display by cowboys and cowgirls. The public can pay for dirt bike raceway in a separate event at the motocross tracks.
Rodeo started with Cheyenne Frontier days in the late 1880s as the granddaddy of 'em all, it did not evolve from bull fighting in Spain. Let's not mess up our culture with this unrelated distraction. The proud and excellent things that individuals have brought to making America great shouldn't be down played diminished or forgotten in collectivism.
Don W. Dunbar