Tom Reeves: Living the Rodeo Dream
Condensed by Native Village
Rodeo legend Tom Reeves is a member of the Rosebud Sioux
Tribe. In 2001, Reeves won the PRCA World Champion
Saddle Bronc Rider. He was a veteran at age 37.
blue-collar cowboy work ethic hasnít allowed him to slow
down. In 2007 he coached the Ranger College (TX) rodeo team
to the National Finals Rodeo menís title. For that, he
received a ProRodeo Hall of Fame ďMentoring Award.Ē
2008, Reeves was elected to the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
recently interviewed during
the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. His Wild Card Pro
Rodeo company had stock there that included 5 bulls and a
What was your childhood like growing up in rural South
I grew up southeast of Eagle Butte, South Dakota right on
the Missouri River on the Indian reservation -- went to an
Indian boarding school and the whole deal. At the boarding
school we got lonesome for our folks and family because they
didnít run the busses way out in those rural areas. You
didnít have much choice but to go there, but itís just
something everybody you knew did. So it didnít seem like it
was strange or anything, because we didnít know nothing
else. But we had a good nature and I have nothing but good
memories of being there.
When did you start competing professionally in saddle bronc
I brought my first PRCA card when I was 15, and I had a
permit to compete professionally when I was 15. I pretty
much didnít do the amateur deal -- I skipped that. I won the
high school rodeo a couple of times: when I was 15, in
Yakima, Washington; and then again when I was 17 in
Douglass, Wyoming. I did pro rodeos, went to Indian rodeos
since I was 13 years old, and before then I did youth rodeos
since I was 8 years old. From the start I had to compete
against some of the best guys in the world. Howard Hunter
[Lakota and four-time Indian Finals Rodeo Champion saddle
bronc rider in 1980, 1987, 1988, and 1990] was probably 15
years older than me and was from Kyle, South Dakota. HeĎd been in the PRCA Finals several times. He was bad ass and
knew how to ride.
Looking back, how do you feel about your accomplishment of
winning the PRCA 2001 World Saddle Bronc Championship?
Since I was five years old, thatís what Iíd wanted to do. Of
course itís something Iím very proud of, that I fulfilled a
childhood dream and goal, but thereís still so many other
things to go win. Now Iím into stock contracting and things
like that, and I want to be the best in that too. I coached
a college team for several years, and we won National
Championship and that was pretty rewarding. It was Ranger
College, in Texas in 2007.
You hosted a rodeo on your Rosebud Reservation at the
Rosebud Casino, correct?
I did a pro rodeo at Rosebud for charity in Rosebud. Our
company is Indian owned, and of course Iím proud to go back
home and show out a little bit -- itís a good feeling.
Thereís a lot of talent in Indian country, and they
appreciate a good rodeo. The majority of people on the
reservation, you canít fool them. They know what a good
bronc is, and theyíre the best rodeo fans there is.
What advice do you offer other young Natives who aspire to
be a pro rodeo athlete?
I would go to a quality rodeo school -- I teach rodeo
schools myself -- because thatís how I got started at a
young age, and I would compete against the best. But the
main thing is I worked hard and never quit. Itís an
advantage to be an Indian in a lot of different ways. You
can use your minority status for your benefit, and even as
something to egg yaí on. Itís a good thing to be Indian.
Itís something Iím proud of.
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