A new documentary film, “Indian Relay,” by Charles Dye and MontanaPBS, is screening in eight cities, including Billings at 4 p.m. Oct. 20.

The film, premiering on the Emmy Award-winning series “Independent Lens,” will also be shown in Crow Agency, Browning, Bozeman, Helena, Missoula, Great Falls and Fort Hall, Idaho. It will be shown on MontanaPBS at 7 p.m. Oct. 31.

The hope and determination of modern-day American Indian life is revealed in this film about what it takes to win one of the most perilous forms of horse racing practiced anywhere in the world.

From the bitter cold of winter on the Rocky Mountain Front to the heat and mayhem of the summer’s championship races in Montana and Idaho, “Indian Relay” follows three teams from different American Indian communities as they prepare for and compete in a grueling Indian Relay season — all hearts set on the glory and honor of winning an Indian Relay National Championship.

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 up to eight Indian athletes riding a horse 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 “mugger” must then catch the first horse or the team is disqualified, creating an often chaotic free-for-all in front of the grandstands. Another top-speed lap, another daring horse change, and the teams race for the finish line, at speeds topping 40 miles an hour.

“Indian Relay” opens with footage from the Indian Relay National Championships, then it cuts back in time, to the bitter cold off-season near Browning, where first-time Relayer Myles Murray tries to keep his horses alive when night-time temperatures are dropping to 20 degrees below zero.

“Indian Relay” was directed and produced by 2010 NW Regional Emmy-award winner Charles Dye and MontanaPBS. Darren Kipp (Blackfeet) is the film’s co-producer. It was written by Montana educator and poet M.L. Smoker (Assiniboine/Sioux). The film was executive produced by MontanaPBS’ director of content Aaron Pruitt, Foundation and the Friends of MontanaPBS.

Vision Maker Media is sponsoring free screenings across the region, including the Oct. 13 screening in Crow Agency, Oct. 14 screening in Browning, Oct. 17 screening in Bozeman, Oct. 19 screening in Fort Hall, Idaho, Oct. 24 in Helena, Oct. 28 in Missoula, and Oct. 29 in Great Falls.

More information is available at www.montanapbs.org/IndianRelay.



Jaci Webb covers entertainment for The Billings Gazette.