Navajo Nation to hold 4th Annual Exceptional Children's rodeo

<i>Courtesy photo</i><br>
Navajo Nation Vice President Ben Shelly addresses last year’s Exceptional Rodeo participants.  A proclamation was signed Aug. 19 by Navajo Nation officials reaffirming the Nation’s recognition and respect for Navajo people with disabilities.

<i>Courtesy photo</i><br> Navajo Nation Vice President Ben Shelly addresses last year’s Exceptional Rodeo participants. A proclamation was signed Aug. 19 by Navajo Nation officials reaffirming the Nation’s recognition and respect for Navajo people with disabilities.

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. - Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., Vice President Ben Shelly, Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan, Chief Justice Herb Yazzie and Resources Committee Chairperson George Arthur signed a proclamation Aug. 19 reaffirming the Nation's recognition and respect for Navajo people with disabilities.

The proclamation is in honor of the Fourth Annual Navajo Nation Fair Exceptional Children's Rodeo, which is being held tomorrow at the Dean C. Jackson Memorial Arena in Window Rock as part of the 62nd Annual Navajo Nation Fair.

The signing of the proclamation makes the branch chiefs aware of the special needs of children with disabilities and the purpose in making the event available for them.

Planning team members for the rodeo say that people with disabilities were not included during the Navajo Nation Fair. The rodeo began four years ago when Arthur realized there were events at the fair for almost everyone - except for people with disabilities.

"This is a wonderful annual tradition because these are our relatives, our children, who are disabled in some fashion," President Shirley said. "It does us all good to recognize them and what they bring into our families."

The planning team invites children with disabilities in kindergarten through eighth grade from across the Navajo Nation to the annual rodeo held in their honor. Among the many events planned for this year's exceptional rodeo are Wild West Photographs, Lickity Split Barrel Racing, Brush and Shine Horse Grooming, Kidz Kowboy Roping, the Pony Express Ride, pole bending, old-fashioned wagon ride and the ever-popular Mighty Bucky Bull-o-rama.

The fourth rodeo for the Navajo Nation is one that the planning team recognizes as a sacred event that solidifies its importance and continuation at the peoples' fair.

During the proclamation signing ceremony at the Navajo Nation Museum, Vice President Shelly said, "Let's get more involved on behalf of our kids. They're our kids." Last year, Shelly helped to open the ceremonies at the exceptional rodeo.

During the proclamation ceremony, Miss Navajo Nation 2007-2008 Jonathea Tso sang the National Anthem. Navajo Nation Council delegate Norman John II (Twin Lakes) gave the invocation. Exceptional rodeo coordinator Louise Bitsui gave the welcome address and entertainer Jay Begaye performed songs in honor of the exceptional rodeo participants. Planning team member Marcella King read aloud the proclamation and member Stephen Begay gave the benediction.

The planning team members were thanked for their volunteer time and effort to put on the exceptional rodeo.

This year there are 19 planning team members, who rely on the volunteers who show up on the day of the rodeo to guide children through the courses. Sponsors contribute money each year to make the rodeo a reality.

Registration forms for participants and for volunteers are available on the Navajo Nation Fair's official Web site at www.navajonationfair.com/nnf08/htm/erodeo.html.

For more information, you may contact George Arthur, Committee Chairperson at (928) 871-6380 or Louise Bitsui, Planning Team Coordinator at (928) 550-3812.

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