Crow dancers bless Antelope Butte at annual summer festival

(Sheridan, Wyo.) — For the second year in a row, members of the Crow Nation blessed the hillside at the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area in the Bighorn National Forest on Saturday evening.

"I am a sun dance chief ... I bless all people, all birds, all animals — everything that is on this earth. The grass, the rocks. Everything, we use as our medicine. Everything, we use to guide us through this world," Leonard Bends, spiritual leader of the Native American Crow Nation said during the third annual Antelope Butte Summer Festival on the mountain this weekend.

The blessing included prayers in Crow and a smoke ceremony ushering smoke to all four cardinal directions of the earth.

Over a thousand people turned out for food, live music, the blessing and dancing and a Crow drum circle, mountain bike races, trail runs, kids' activities, beer and more. The Antelope Butte Foundation is a grassroots effort to reopen the Antelope Butte Mountain Recreation Area as a year-round mountain recreation center, and funds raised over the weekend will go to benefit the ABF.

In the waning orange sunlight Saturday night, Leonard added, "When you go back home, let your light — may it always shine."

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