(San Francisco, CA) – 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. From the bitter cold of winter to the heat and mayhem of the summer’s championship races in Montana and Idaho, Indian Relay follows teams from three different American Indian communities over nine months, 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. A film by Charles Dye, Indian Relay premieres during Native American Heritage Month on Independent Lens, hosted by Stanley Tucci, on Monday, November 18, 2013, 10:00 to 11:00pm ET on PBS (check local listings).
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. Another top-speed lap, another daring horse change, and 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. Although competitive on the track, the young Indian relay racers share a deep bond through their love of the sport and their pride in their Native traditions. As the film follows their 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.
Visit the Indian Relay companion website (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/indian-relay/) which features information about the film, including an interview with the filmmaker and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter. The site also features a Talkback section for viewers to share their ideas and opinions, as well as preview clips of the film and more.
About the Participants
Tissidimit Team, Shoshone-Bannock Nation, Ft. Hall, Idaho
Lance Tissidimit, owner
Alonzo “Punkin” Coby, rider
Murray Team, Blackfeet Nation, Browning, Montana
Myles Murray, team owner/holder
Carol Tatsey Murray, advisor
MM Express Team, Apsáalooke Nation, Crow Agency, Montana
Kendall Old Horn, owner/holder
Zack Rock, rider
About the Filmmaker
Charles Dye (Producer/Director) Once the only non-Native American distance runner on an Arizona high school team, Charles Dye appreciates the sense of purpose and multi-cultural community that competition brings to life in the rural American West. His previous projects include Before There Were Parks: Yellowstone and Glacier Through Native Eyes, which aired on primetime PBS nationwide and won two regional Emmy awards; A Cat Called Elvis, about his and his family’s search for snow leopards in ethnically-Kazakh western Mongolia, which was the #1 downloaded episode on the Webby-award winning TERRA podcast; and Last of the Gum Men, about Guatemala’s few remaining chicleros, which aired nationally on public television.
Executive Producer: Aaron Pruitt
Producer/Director: Charles Dye
Writer: M. Smoker
Co-Producer: Darren Kipp
Cinematographers: Danny Schmidt, Dawson Dunning, Rick Smith, Russell Hawkins, Christi Cooper, Ian Johnson, Scott Sterling & Randy Wimberg
Sound Recordists: Parker Brown, Devon Ritter
Field Producers: Jaime Jelenchick and Mike Suarez
Associate Producer: Wayne Smith, Jr.
Editor: Katie Lose Gilbertson
About Independent Lens
Independent Lens is an Emmy® Award-winning weekly series airing on PBS. The acclaimed anthology series features documentaries united by the creative freedom, artistic achievement, and unflinching visions of independent filmmakers. Presented by Independent Television Service (ITVS), the series is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private corporation funded by the American people, with additional funding from PBS and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The senior series producer is Lois Vossen. More information at www.pbs.org/independentlens. Join Independent Lens on Facebook at www.facebook.com/independentlens.