Earlier this year, Navajo Team Roper Derrick Begay pocketed a cool $100,000 for a first-place finish at The American Rodeo in Arlington, Texas. In many ways, rodeo is more than just a sport. It’s also income for competitors and families. In November 2016, First Nations Development Institute teamed up with partners to help rodeo families learn more about managing their prize money.
In partnership with Chief Dull Knife College and People’s Partner for Community Development, First Nations and the Indian National Finals Rodeo Association hosted a special event for junior contestants at the 2016 Indian National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada. A fun and engaging learning experience, the “Rodeo Bucks 101” financial skills workshop empowered rodeo teens to better manage their prize winnings.
“I see great value in this workshop,” said Bo Vocu, president of the Indian National Finals Rodeo Association (INFR). “INFR is the largest and oldest Indian rodeo organization in the world. We sanction nearly 700 rodeos annually, drawing competitors from all over the U.S. and Canada. We offer more than a million dollars in prize money every year. Many of our young cowboys and cowgirls earn sizeable sums. They need to understand that there’s a business side to this sport, and financial management plays a big part in that.”
Sharon Small (Northern Cheyenne) won a top INFR prize (All-Around Cowgirl) while a college student in Laramie, Wyoming. Rodeo helped pay for her education and today she’s the executive director of People’s Partner for Community Development, a community development financial institution (CDFI) in Lame Deer, Montana.
“I never received much guidance with my winnings when I competed,” explained the former champion who came up with the idea for a financial skills workshop for rodeo youth. “My husband is also a former champion and our kids do rodeo, too. We hit about 50 rodeos a year and I see a huge need to educate rodeo families on the ins and outs of personal finance and asset-building.”
First Nations provided the 1.5-hour interactive workshop with assistance from financial skills trainer Shawn Spruce and staff from People’s Partner for Community Development. Topics included budgeting and saving, avoiding financial fraud, and paying taxes on prize money.
“We’re thrilled to partner with INFR and First Nations,” said Chief Dull Knife College Extension Service Director Henry Thompson. “The rodeo is a fantastic opportunity to reach Native youth and their families and share the message of financial empowerment.”
By Shawn Spruce, First Nations Financial Education Consultant