Soxie takes title

Robert Smith
The Strike Axe team at the National Indian Taco Festival, led by John Williams Jr., went home with the most prize money Saturday. Strike Axe won $1,000 for its second-place finish, but it also won another $1,000 for winning in the People’s Choice category.

The weather held Saturday — just barely — so Pawhuskans and their guests could fully enjoy the 2018 edition of the National Indian Taco Championship.

It sprinkled lightly during a portion of the powwow dancing, but the water went away and Team Soxie finished first in the judging, taking the $1,500 first prize. Team Strike Axe, however, raked in more money overall by taking the $1,000 second prize, plus the $1,000 People’s Choice prize.

Sponsored by the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, the event was a tourism promoter’s delight. People from throughout Green Country joined Pawhuskans and visitors from other parts of the nation. At one table, a couple from Broken Arrow talked with two visitors from Seattle about how they visit Pawhuska every year just to get their fill of genuine Indian tacos. The folks from Seattle were only passing through, but explained they had used Oklahoma tourism information they found online to plan their stop for tacos.

Oliver Littlecook provided the warm, witty voice of the Indian Taco Championship, entertaining the crowd with riddles and commentary on the fine points of pow wow dancing. He also sparked a mix of cheers and groans with his occasional announcements of the latest score in the Oklahoma-Texas college football game.

“We’re not responsible for any arguments or divorces,” Littlecook intoned playfully, as he announced it was “ladies’ choice” time during the powwow dancing. “Ladies, grab you a man.”

There was also the fun of daring people in the crowd to give pow wow dancing a try. One young man who stepped forward and joined the fun at the intersection of Kihekah Avenue and Sixth Street turned out, upon closer scrutiny, to have more experience than might have been guessed.

Kyle Murdock, 24, of Shawnee, said he’s a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, and while the drummings he heard Saturday in Pawhuska were a little different than what he’s used to, he was willing to give it a shot.

“They said they were looking for people and no one was going out,” he commented.

Joni Nash, executive director of the Pawhuska Chamber of Commerce, thanked her committee for the taco championship for all its hard work.