Thursday, February 22, 2018

Josiah Running Crow holds steady during the Crow Fair All Indian Open Show in August as a horse attempts to buck him from the saddle. He won the competition’s short go category.

Three months. 80 horses. One rodeo.

Saddle bronc rider Running Crow averages third at Cody Nite Rodeo Finals
Following a summer-long effort of saddle bronc riding on 80 different horses from June 1 to Aug. 31, Josiah Running Crow managed to average third this year at the Cody Nite Rodeo Finals. Running Crow, an enrolled Crow tribal member and descendant of the Gros Ventre Tribe, earned the right to compete at the finals – held Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 – by finishing in the top 10 of the competition’s bronc riders.
Cody Nite Rodeo, located at Stampede Park in Cody, Wyo., has operated since 1938 and run for 79 seasons. Presently, the rodeo draws an estimated 100,000 people per year.
Running Crow, 23, had competed at Cody-based rodeos in the past, he said, but this year his mother Tami Grant wanted him to get serious. The owner of Pease Construction in Crow Agency, Tami said Running Crow could either move to Cody and pursue his dream of competing in rodeo full-time, or he could work for her.
“I packed my stuff up and went that same night,” Running Crow said. “She pushes me to be the best.”
Growing up in Eagle Springs, located about 10 miles southwest of Hardin, Running Crow rode horses with his father Anthony Pease by the time he was five years old at a ranch owned by his grandparents Preston and Sandra Grant. Later, he helped break horses on the weekends for extra money.
Running Crow first tried his hand at saddle bronc riding at the age of 18. During this period, he was playing as a guard for the Dawson Community College Buccaneers on a basketball scholarship in Glendive, Mont. Standing at 6-foot-4, Running Crow believed the bronc riding to be more fit for a smaller person, but a friend of his encouraged him to try it. He even let Running Crow use his saddle.
The horse bucked and Running Crow threw his feet forward to stay on top. He was soon hooked.
“It was almost surreal because you’re trying not to think about it and just trying to react, but when you’re in the saddle, everything slows down. You know what you’re on earth for, you know your purpose,” he said of bronc riding. “It really hits you like a drug, though. You get addicted to it. There were times where I spent all my money just rodeoing.”
On Aug. 21, after a stretch working at the Bakken oil field, he entered Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla. on a full-ride scholarship for bronc riding. Currently a sophomore, he is majoring in engineering.
Seeing Running Crow’s hard work and determination is among the best things about watching him compete, according to Tami. She recalled children coming up to visit with him in Crow Agency after he won the short go at the Crow Fair All Indian Open Show in August. He told them that, if they worked hard, they could compete in rodeo like him.
“That has really touched my heart as a mother, seeing how he’s a role model to this younger generation,” Tami said. “Cowboys are the last of a dying breed, and being involved and showing them that you can go to school on a scholarship from rodeo…that’s what I like to see.”
Running Crow considers it a “blessing” to have the opportunity to compete in rodeo, adding that he received support from his family and “my lord and savior, Jesus.” 
To prepare for competitions, he was aided by Phillip Whiteman Jr., a two-time Indian World Champion saddle bronc rider from Lame Deer. Currently, he is training in Oklahoma with brothers Robert and Dan Etbauer. Robert won two National Finals Rodeo saddle bronc world titles in 1990 and ’91, and Dan qualified for NFR competitions in the category 10 times. In 2012, Robert was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Running Crow said he wants to win seven NFR world titles – one more than his role model, Dan Mortensen of Billings. Mortensen, who Running Crow “has always…looked up to,” also was inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in 2009, shortly after he retired from the sport.
Through his work, Tami said, Running Crow is representing the Crow Nation at rodeos in Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas. Those who would wish to sponsor Running Crow – who wears the names of sponsors in patches on his uniform – may contact Tami by phone at (406) 647-9955 or by email at
Videos of Running Crow’s bronc riding are available on YouTube by looking up “Josiah Jake Running Crow.”
“He’s in search of sponsorships,” Tami said. “It would really help him with his pro rodeo.”
Eventually, Running Crow said, he hopes to put on a “couple rodeo schools” in Crow Agency to help others pursue their own rodeo ambitions.