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Crow Fair 101: Alvie will show you how it’s done

Alvie Old Coyote elected as Pow Wow Manger for 2019
Thursday, October 25, 2018
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Courtesy photo by Bobbi Jo Old Coyote

Pow Wow Manager Alvie Old Coyote introduces the 2019 Crow Fair Royalty on Sunday, Oct. 14 at the Multipurpose Building in Crow Agency. This year’s royalty includes four sets of identical twins and two sets of fraternal twins, leading Alvie to choose the model, “Twinning is Winning.” Pictured from left to right are Mighty Few District Princesses Kylee Old Elk and Beanna Old Elk, Lodge Grass District Princesses Shantell Pretty On Top and Tyressa Pretty On Top, Black Lodge District Princesses Alexis Morrison and Katerina Morrison, Jr. Miss Crow Nation Kevee Rogers, Miss Crow Nation Awna Bad Bear, Crow Fair 101 Pow Wow Manager Alvie Old Coyote, Miss Tiny Tot Crow Nation Camiela Old Elk, Arrow Creek District Princesses Lamya Takes The Gun and Javiera Takes The Gun, Big Horn District Princess Brenna Yellowmule, No Water District Princess Destiny Small, and Off Reservation Princess Christin Singer. Not pictured is Reno District Princess Emily Pease

Alvie Old Coyote’s favorite sport is PBR, or Professional Bull Riding, and it’s through the PBR that he’s made some friends in high places.

“He’s friends with Chad Berger,” his father Darrin says, “who is the six or seven time stock contractor of the year for PBR. He even took his senior picture next to Chad’s world famous bull, Asteroid.”

That was when the family was in Billings for the rodeo. And it was while waiting out back by the semi, talking with Berger that Alvie asked, “Where’s JB?”

He was referring to another friend, James Burton Mauney, a professional bull rider who had been slammed and stomped earlier that year. When Mauney arrived, Alvie asked him what had happened, and Mauney explained the details of getting stepped on by the bull.

“Well,” Alvie said, “Stay on next time.” That year, JB went on to win the world championship.

On Tuesday of this year’s Crow Fair, Alvie Old Coyote was elected – along with the other members of the Crow Fair Committee – to be Pow Wow Manager. This is a lifelong dream of Alvie’s, who, as Darrin can testify, wakes up every morning to reach for his drum and sing what he calls Indian Music, the traditional music heard at Crow pow wows.

The following Tuesday after the elections, Alvie’s family had a clan feed back at the same arbor where Crow Fair takes place. That’s when everyone started pitching in ideas for fundraisers. Along with his sisters Evelyn Old Coyote and Charine Whiteman, and his mother Bobbi Jo, one of their events planned was the 2019 Crow Fair Royalty Pageant, which took place last weekend at the Multicultural Building in Crow Agency. They needed funds for the sashes, shawls and roses, and so a lot of what they planned and continue to plan are fundraisers for the Crow Fair Pow Wow and the dances.

“There’s still a budget fight within the tribe,” Darrin explains. “We don’t know what that’s going to do to the fair. As of late, we’ve heard from the legislature that it was zeroed out, so we’re taking a proactive approach with the fundraisers.”

Alvie has partnered with artist Kevin Red Star of Lodge Grass, who has agreed to do a fundraiser for the Crow Fair Pow Wow. He’s looking to donate a painting that will be auctioned off at an event in Billings.

“It won’t just be Kevin’s art,” Darrin explains. “Other people are looking to donate things, too. Right now, we’re working with an outfit out of Billings that’s looking for a venue. We’re planning to call the event Crow Fair: The First 100 Years.”

Alvie and his mother Bobbi Jo are planning the event as an educational fundraiser, with a historical overview of the first 100 years, along with dance performances and an auction.

Alvie’s story, however, starts long before his election as pow wow manager. Alvie was born premature with a cognitive delay, what some might call autism, and the first couple years were pretty rough.

“When he was about a year old,” Darrin explains, “his lung wasn’t functioning. The doctor was telling us, if he doesn’t take the steroids that were given to him, that basically we could say our goodbyes to him. They came back within an hour, and still no progress, so they said, say your goodbyes, prepare for the worst.”

That’s when the Black Whistle drum group, with whom Darrin and Alvie sing, arrived.

“When they came in, they kicked me and my wife out. And he was sitting there and those boys I sing with came in,” Darrin said. “Even to this day I don’t know what they did. But an hour later, he was back to himself, up and running around. I’m pretty sure it was prayer. I’m pretty sure it was, you know, coming together and praying. Spiritually, the prayers must have been heard.”

And it was later, when Alvie had difficulty speaking for most of his childhood, that his father taught him sign language as a way of communicating with his family. Since then, Alvie has enjoyed pow wow music. He’s a dancer, and he started dancing even before he could walk. His mom would carry him onto the dance floor, and even though he couldn’t balance, she would hold onto him, going around the dance floor. He grew up in the pow wow circle, according to his father.

“The way that my mom and my uncles and even my brothers say it,” Darrin says, “is that Alvie brings joy to us. You forget about all the harsh realities of this world when Alvie comes around because he’s bringing laughter.”

Another friend of Alvie’s is three-time World Bull Riding Champion Adriano Moraes of São Paulo, Brazil. After watching Moraes disembark the same plane as his father in Billings, Alvie ran over and proceeded to carry on a conversation with Moraes, even though Moraes doesn’t speak Crow and Alvie doesn’t speak Portuguese. It was the sign language, his father said, the same signs he taught to his son when he was just a boy that allowed Alvie to communicate with his hero.

When asked what it’s like becoming the Crow Fair 101 Pow Wow Manager, Alvie says it’s good. In a position that used to be called the General Manager of the Fair – along with the rodeo manager, parade manager and horse racing commissioner – he makes up the Crow Fair Committee. The committee’s job is to oversee the event, Crow Fair, held the third weekend in August.

In response to questions about the election process for the committee and rumors of a recount, Darrin explains, “There was a statement by the Crow Tribal Administration that the chairman was going to have the secretary of the tribe do a re-election. But the secretary stated there’s no law in the election ordinance that gives him authority to oversee Crow Fair elections. Because Crow Fair elections even pre-date the Constitution. People select the Crow Fair committee. The people, not the administration. And the people have chosen Alvie as their pow wow manager.”

Alvie is well known in Indian Country. He’s won dancing contests in Milwaukee, and has sung with Black Whistle, Bronc Riders Only, Blackfoot Confederacy and the Yellow Wolf drum groups. Alvie’s maternal grandmother, who uses a wheelchair and has muscular dystrophy, made a wish when he was little, Darrin says. “She made a wish that she wanted to celebrate with him, singing and dancing, when he gets older, because of the tough life that he had when he was a baby. She wants to celebrate with him, and today her wish is coming to fruition. So he and his grandma are pretty excited about Crow Fair.”

“People will continue to support Alvie, regardless,” Darrin continues. “If they have a reelection that’s fine. If they don’t, then that’s even the better. I think that he’s already proven himself; that he’s capable of running a big show with the help of family and friends, and people that want to see him succeed as an individual.”

Alvie’s announcers for the Crow Fair 101 Pow Wow will be Robert “Corky” Old Horn, Dale Old Horn and Jason Goodstriker, along with Darrin, who will join in for the announcing of Crow Night.

The family is planning a Prize Bingo in Wyola on Nov. 4; a Pie Social at Reno Hall at 6 p.m. on Nov. 7; and a weekend-long Apsaalooke Warriors Honoring Pow Wow and Veterans Honoring Dinner, Nov. 9 through Nov. 11, at the Multipurpose Building in Crow Agency, starting at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3:00 p.m. on Sunday with singing, dancing and a feed to honor the veterans. All events are sponsored by Alvie and the Crow Fair Royalty.

For more information, go to Crow Fair 101 on Facebook.

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