Howard Hunter Sr.
"Sunka Watogla Akan Yanka Wicas" (Wild Horse Rider)
Howard grew up with eight other children in the family, and helped his parents, Al and Ethelyn Hunter, run cattle near his hometown of Kyle, SD on the Pine Ridge Reservation where he is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. He learned to ride horses, doctor calves, shoot coyotes and hunt deer. But what captured his interest above all was rodeo. He entered his first rodeo at age 10 in Gordon, NE and won his first buckle.
In high school he was a one-man rodeo team for the Oglala Community School in Pine Ridge, SD, working bareback, saddle bronc and bull riding. In 1969 he took first in bareback, first in bull riding, second in saddle bronc and won the all around in the South Dakota High School Rodeo Association, an achievement never accomplished before or since. He earned a trip to the National High School Finals in San Antonio, TX.
By the time he graduated from high school in 1970, he wanted to try his luck in professional rodeo. A good friend, Charlie Colombe, from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe helped steer him to three-time saddle bronc champ Shawn Davis. Davis agreed to take him down the road to help him get started. That meant he would take him with him and pay his expenses and entry fees. In return, he would get a percentage of any prize money that Howard won. He quickly filled his professional rodeo permit and went to win Cheyenne Frontier Days, Houston, Ellensburg, El Paso, Deadwood, Casper and Jackson just to name a few.
Howard continued to ride broncs over four decades. He won the Saddle Bronc Championship for the South Dakota Rodeo Association in 1971. He was the Badlands Circuit Saddle Bronc Champion in 1976, 1978, and 1982. He qualified for the National Finals Rodeo in 1976, 1979, and 1980. He qualified for the Indian National Finals Rodeo fourteen times since it began in 1976 winning four Saddle Bronc Championships in 1980, 1987, 1988 and 1990. He was the Great Plains Indian Rodeo Association saddle bronc champion ten times. He was inducted in the South Dakota Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Howard was seriously injured at the Crow Fair Rodeo in Crow Agency, MT on August 19, 1995 when his bronc fell with him. The fall resulted in a traumatic brain stem injury. Although he no longer is able to compete, his love for rodeo is still very deep in his heart and mind.
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