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EIRA doles out season honors during banquet

EIRA Banquet01
Daniel Rodriguez, left, earns a buckle and Cisco Rodriguez earns a saddle for their achievements during the Eastern Indian Rodeo Association (EIRA) season. The brothers celebrated their non-sanction awards in junior bull riding Oct. 17 at the EIRA banquet in Brighton.

BRIGHTON — The end of the 2015 Eastern Indian Rodeo Association (EIRA) season was celebrated Oct. 17 at the Florida Seminole Veterans Building in Brighton with a parade of winners who collected buckles and saddles to commemorate their season. The banquet also featured the newly elected EIRA directors, who will serve through 2018.

Leanna Billie and Jobe Johns earned all-around cowgirl and cowboy, respectively, based on their high scores during the six-rodeo season. Leanna, who started in rodeo about 16 years ago riding an “old cow horse,” was named all-around cowgirl for the sixth time.

“I like the thrill of it,” she said. “Rodeo is a great atmosphere and it keeps me out of trouble.”

Getting to the top of her game was hard work. Leanna practices every day for about six hours and cares for her eight horses. She competes in breakaway roping, barrels, team roping, tie down and steer wrestling. She will participate in breakaway roping at the Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) in Las Vegas Nov. 3-7.

Jobe, a high school senior, said keeping up with his school work and staying healthy are his biggest challenges. He practices three or four hours a day and will compete in the INFR in steer wrestling and calf roping.

“It feels outstanding,” said Jobe, 17, who plans to rodeo professionally after graduation.

As the banquet festivities began, emcee Moses Jumper Jr. introduced the newly crowned EIRA Senior Rodeo Queen Randee Osceola and EIRA Junior Rodeo Queen Madisyn Osceola.

“The youth mean a lot to us,” Jumper said. “We need a youth organization to have an adult one.”

Excitement filled the air as cowboys and cowgirls anticipated the INFR, the final event of the year.

At 16, Ahnie Jumper is a veteran cowgirl and INFR competitor, but this will be the first time she will compete in breakaway roping. She aims to stay consistent and place in every round.

Daniel Rodriguez, 16, will attend INFR for the third time. He will compete in junior bull riding and junior breakaway roping. He feels confident that he is as good as the other competitors.

The new EIRA directors are Josh Jumper, president; Mackenzie Bowers, vice president; Melissa Gopher, secretary; Moses Jumper Jr., special events director; Ivan Bruised Head, bareback riding; Billy Joe Johns, saddle bronc riding; Justin Gopher, steer wrestling; Dayne Johns and Jobe Johns, calf roping; Leanna Billie, ladies breakaway roping; Paul Bowers Sr., team roping (header); Naha Jumper, team roping (heeler); Lisa Osceola, ladies barrel racing; and Paul Bowers Jr., bull riding.

 

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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