Indian Relay

Indian Relay

  • BY Charles Dye | IN Identity
    Premiered November 18, 2013

About the Film

Set against the sweeping panoramic vistas of the high plains, Indian Relay explores one of the most competitive, dangerous, and thrilling forms of horse racing practiced anywhere in the world today. MORE

An exhilarating mix of high-speed daring and exquisite horsemanship, Indian relay is a sport widely enjoyed and practiced by men and women from tribal nations across the Rocky Mountain West. Each race begins with up to eight athletes riding bareback around a track at full gallop. After one lap, barely slowing down, the riders leap from their speeding horses to a second set of horses. Each team’s handlers must then catch the first horse or risk being disqualified, creating a chaotic melee of 32 people and 24 race horses in the middle of the track. After another top-speed lap and another daring horse change, the teams race for the finish line at speeds topping 40 miles an hour.

Indian Relay follows teams from the Shoshone-Bannock Nation in Idaho, and the Crow and Blackfeet Nations, both of Montana, as they prepare for and compete across a grueling Indian relay season — all hearts set on the glory and honor of winning the National Championships. While they are rivals on the track, the young relay racers share a deep bond through their love of the sport and pride in their Native traditions. As the film traces triumphs and setbacks during the course of the racing season, their strength and determination shine through, and serves as a beacon of hope for the families and their communities.

The Filmmaker

Charles Dye is an award-winning filmmaker, a husband, and a father based in Bozeman, Montana. He holds an MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking from Montana State University’s School of Film and Photography. His previous projects include Before There Were Parks: Yellowstone and Glacier through Native Eyes, which appeared on PBS and won two regional Emmy awards; A Cat Called Elvis about his search (with his family) for snow leopards in ethnically-Kazakh western Mongolia; and Last of the Gum Men about Guatemala’s few remaining chicleros. Since 1996, Charles has mentored hundreds of young filmmakers in programs such as National Geographic Student Expeditions, Seattle’s 9-1-1 Media Arts Center’s Media Underground, Pennsylvania’s BCTV FilmCamp, Tucson, Arizona’s Voices: Community Stories Past and Present Project, and Montana State University’s TerraPod and Montana Apprentice Program. He’s also taught in Montana State’s School of Film and Photography. LESS

Film Credits

Produced and Directed by
Charles Dye

Executive Producer
Aaron Pruitt

Director of Photography
Daniel Schmidt

Darren Kipp

Principle Cameras
Christi Cooper
Dawson Dunning
Charles Dye
Russell Hawkins
Ian Johnson
Darren Kipp
Rick Smith
Scott Sterling
Mike Suarez
Randy Wimberg

POV Cams
Loren Croff
Anskii Deroche
Kalen Hammond
JonMarc Skunkcap

Additional Cameras
Marty Hall
Shaw Momberg
Sam Pannoni
Devon Riter

Field Sound
Sarah Smith
Parker Brown
Mike Suarez

Field Producers
Jaime Jelenchick-Jacobsen
Mike Suarez

Production Assistant
Derrick Little Light

Katie Gilbertson

Supervising Editor and Graphics
Andy Adkins

M. Smoker

Original Music
Lissette Haugestuen

Assistant Editors
Charles Dye
Daniel Schmidt
Sarah Smith

Story Consultant
Shasta Grenier

Associate Producer
Wayne Smith Jr.

Post-Production Services
Distill Productions LLC

Additional Graphics
Doug Lyon

Mix Engineer
Jeremiah Slovarp

Assistant Mix Engineers
Luke Flansburg
Jordan Beene
Dodge Kramer

Scott Sterling

Special Thanks to
Sam Aimsback
Sam Backbone
Leonard Bastien
Bearpaw Relay Team
"Tee" Big Hair
Brandon Bird and The Eastern Idaho State Fair
Sam Bird and the Charging Home Racetrack
Joe Bird Rattler
Boogie Boys Relay Team
Jessica Bronco
Leo and James Bullshoe
Tony Carlson family and the Carlson Relay Team
Dale Carlson family and the Pikuni Boys Relay Team
Neil Carlson family and Little Badger Boys Relay Team
Ben Christensen family
Chasen Coby
LaGrande Coby family and the Coby Relay Team
Ross Deroche family and the Deroche Relay Team
"Soup" Ducheneaux and the DD Express Relay Team
Ann, Colm, and Maeve Dye
G.W. Ecoffey
Delbert Farmer
Lisa Lone Fight
Dr. Walter Fleming
Goodrider Relay Team
Grizzly Mountain Relay Team
Whitney Holds and the Holds the Enemy Relay Team
Festus Hugs
Carl Ingraham
Richard Kale family
Marganna and Ray King
Joey and Willy Kirkaldie families and the Kirkaldie Relay Team
Johna LaPlante
Jostin Lawrence
John Logan
Dr. Tim McCleary family
Heather Miller
Katherine Minthorn-Goodluck
Sage Momberg family and the Ghost Ridge Relay Team
Mountain Timber Relay Team
Native American Studies Department at Montana State University
John and Molly Murray
Angie and Joni Murray
Museum of the Rockies
Jackie Old Coyote-Logan
Dale Old Horn
Zack "Dokes" Old Dwarf
Omak Express Relay Team
Gifford Osborne
"Little Munce" Osborne
Georgette Peters
Adrienne Pincetl
Marcia Racehorse-Robles
Chazz Racine
Narsis Reevis family
Elijah Rock family and the Rock Relay Team
Todd Sinclair
Sabo family
Norman Shinkle
Shoshone-Bannock Business Council
Hardy Skunkcap
Jamess Skunkcap
Leroy Skunkcap family
Roger St. Clair and the Sheridan WYO Rodeo
Roy Stewart and the Pendleton Round-up
Randy Thomas
Jason Teton
Leo Teton family
Verlon, Michael and Ian Timbana
Ray John Tissidimit
James Tone
Jesse Tone
Starr Weed
White Calf Relay Team
Andy, Rick and "Cheech" Whiteman
Jennifer Woodcock
Wolverine Canyon Relay Team
Bill Yellowtail

Executive Producer for ITVS
Sally Jo Fifer

Funding for This Program Was Provided by
Pacific Mountain Network
Greater Montana Foundation
Humanities Montana
Montana Office of Tourism
Gilhousen Family Foundation
Friends of Montana PBS

Indian Relay is a co-production of Dye Works, LLC, KUSM-TV/Montana PBS,
and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), in association with Vision Maker Media,
with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

This program was produced by Dye Works, LLC and KUSM-TV/Montana PBS,
which are solely responsible for its content.

© 2013 Dyeworks LLC and KUSM-TV/Montana PBS. All rights reserved.

Have you ever watched the sport of Indian relay before? How important do you think it is to keep traditions like this alive as connections to the past?


  • Northwest Regional Emmy Awards
    Best Cultural Documentary; Best Photography


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Have you ever watched the sport of Indian relay before? How important do you think it is to keep traditions like this alive as connections to the past?