Indian Relay

Follow teams from three different American Indian communities as they prepare for and compete across a grueling Indian Relay season.

Indian relay 01
Series
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
November 18, 2013
Length
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call
Producer/Director

Charles Dye

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 Show more 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. In 2009, he was an adjunct professor in Montana State University’s School of Film and Photography. Show less

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The Film

The hope and determination of modern-day American Indian life is revealed in this story about what it takes to win one of the most exciting and dangerous forms of horseracing practiced anywhere in the world today. From the bitter cold of winter on the Rocky Mountain front to the heat and mayhem of the summer’s championship races in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Oregon, Indian Relay follows several teams from three different American Indian communities as they prepare for and compete across a grueling Indian Relay season — all hearts set on the glory and honor of winning this year's National Championships.

A 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 seven 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 28 people and 21 thoroughbreds 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.

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