Ramona “Monie” Horsechief won Pawhuska’s National Indian Taco Championship for the sixth time Saturday, just as it looked like the rain was getting ready to set in again, and she celebrated with cries of delight.
Horsechief, who is Pawnee and lives in Pawnee, explained that gardening and cooking have become therapeutic activities for her since the death of her husband, shortly before the 2018 taco championship.
The National Indian Taco Champsionship takes place the first Saturday of October on Kihekah Avenue in downtown Pawhuska. It mixes cooking with Native American dancing and is promoted as one of the city’s primary tourist events. The lines at taco booths were perhaps half an hour long for hours at a time this year.
Horsechief explained that she grew elements of her taco preparation in her own garden, with the exception of lettuce, and has become increasingly culturally attuned when it comes to her tacos.
“I am going totally cultural on Indian tacos,” she said, adding she planned to travel to Nebraska on Oct. 11 to havest several acres of corn for use in making protein-rich Pani white corn flour. First prize from the taco championship was $1,500.
Coming in second, behind Horsechief, was the Strike Axe cooking team, led by John Williams Jr. and his wife, Marjorie. But just like last year, they also took the People’s Choice Award, bringing their overall winnings to $2,000 ($1,000 for second place and $1,000 for People’s Choice).
“I don’t know yet,” Williams said with a laugh, when asked how Strike Axe keeps doing so well. “I’m sure when I find out, it’ll mess it up.”
He added that his chili and Marjorie’s fry bread seem to go together just like they have in their quarter-century of marriage.
The taco championship also featured some non-taco vendors and a few music acts. Everett Music Studio of Bartlesville provided some youth musical acts, and an adult musical duo — Bo Terry and Oklahoma Mike — teamed up to sing what was perhaps the most arresting tune of the day, titled “I shot your dog.”
Among booths, RJ’s Sweets seemed like perhaps the most original — in part because of the cloth chicken hat that Ronnie Pence was wearing as he waited on potential customers. Ronnie said a guy bought the chicken hat for him at the Muenster, Texas Germanfest. The guy said if Ronnie would wear it, he would buy it, Ronnie related.