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Embassy of Canada Art Gallery in Washington


Photo of Steven Wolf Tail

Indian Relay is North America’s oldest extreme sport, with records dating back over 500 years. It is one of the most competitive, dangerous, heart pounding forms of horse racing practiced anywhere on Earth. Teams consist of 4 people and 3 horses. A team’s rider races 3 laps around the track, changing to a new horse at the beginning of each lap. Two teammates stand at the edge of the track, holding and calming the awaiting horses for the oncoming rider. The fourth teammate catches the arriving horse while the rider dismounts and leaps onto the next horse. The race winner is the first rider to cross the finish line after the third lap.

INDIAN. RELAY. presents this exciting, high-skill extreme sport through a series of 50 photographs taken by Canadian photographers Jason Lawrence and Julie Vincent, and a supplemental documentary provided by Canadian filmmaker Duncan McDowall. Julie and Jason spent several summers traveling around southern Alberta following the races, culminating in a trip to Walla Walla, WA to shoot the first International Indian Relay Championships.

While the intensity of the relay is at the forefront of the exhibit, Jason and Julie want viewers to understand what underlies the sport: the deep connections between riders and their families, the family ties that span several Indigenous communities (sometimes across border), and the friendships forged by the riders. Observers are invited to draw close to these moments and to step into the scenes, and the intimate exchanges happening therein.

Located at 501 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the gallery is accessible Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, free of charge.

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