Lucy Yellowmule Named Rodeo Queen

Every year since 1931, the small reservation border town of Sheridan, Wyoming held a rodeo. At the 1951 Sheridan WYO Rodeo, the organizers used an applause meter to elect the rodeo queen by popular vote, instead of backroom dealings as in the past. Of the twelve contestants, Lucy Yellowmule performed expertly in the arena, with perfect command of not only her horse but also the audience. She received the largest ovation. Yellowmule, a young ranch girl and college student from the Crow Nation, became the first American Indian Sheridan WYO rodeo queen, and the catalyst for the Miss Indian America pageant.

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Yellowmule (pictured center above) became a star attraction and she graciously appeared at local community events.  Her special qualities inspired the creation of All-American Indian Days (AAID) and the Miss Indian America (MIA) pageant and she remained an inspiration and guiding influence to all MIA winners. Credit: Photographer Unknown. All-American Indian Days collection, THE Wyoming Room, Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library, Sheridan, Wyoming.

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Arlene Wesley of the Yakama Nation was crowned the first Miss Indian America in 1953. Qualifications included knowledge of her community’s history and culture, strong academics, and creative talents. Credit: Don Diers, photographer, All-American Indian Days, THE Wyoming Room, Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library, Sheridan, Wyoming

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Howard Sinclair, also known as Neckyoke Jones, was a local journalist who led the charge to establish AAID and the MIA pageant. He described his mission to create “an interracial project in human relations.”  Credit: THE Wyoming Room, Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library, Sheridan Wyoming

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Before this unprecedented victory by Yellowmule, the town of Sheridan had a reputation for their anti-Indian prejudice, as did many western towns, such as Lander, Wyoming, as illustrated in this undated photograph of a local store. Sheridan aimed to foster better cross-culture relations with All-American Indian Days (AAID) and the MIA contest. Credit: Freemont County Pioneer Museum, Lander, Wyoming

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One of Yellowmule’s major contributions was to travel to Washington, D.C. with a group of Crow and Northern Cheyenne women. Yellowmule spoke before Congress and on Voice of America.  Here Regina Spotted Horse, Joy Old Crow, Alta Drift Wood, Lucy Yellowmule, and Dolores Little Coyote accept the Silver Anvil award for “outstanding achievement in community public relations in the interest of racial equality and understanding,” from the American Public Relations Association. Credit: AAUW Collection, Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library, Sheridan, Wyoming