CHEYENNE (AP) — The coronavirus has prompted cancellation of a charity antelope hunt that has drawn teams of famous, powerful men to central Wyoming for over 75 years and now faces growing criticism that ceremonies tied to the event crudely and inaccurately appropriate Native American culture.
The Lander One Shot Antelope Hunt has been held every year since 1944. Participants have included Roy Rogers, Peter Fonda, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, Vice President Dick Cheney, 16 astronauts and the governors of 30 states.
Wyoming’s governors have participated in all but two hunts since 1954. This year, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon was planning to invite Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, a fellow Republican, to be on his team, according to Gordon’s office.
The mid-September hunt has raised millions of dollars for conservation-oriented causes but lately has faced criticism for associated ceremonies in which politicians including former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat now running for U.S. Senate, have worn indigenous women’s headscarves designating them as “losers” of the event.
Hickenlooper in 2018 wore a native headdress designating him a “winner” of the hunt, Wyoming Public Radio reported recently.
While the hunt takes place on the high plains – prime territory for social distancing – and rural Wyoming so far has escaped the worst of the virus outbreaks, banquets associated with the event draw hundreds of people.
Meanwhile, several of this year’s eight, three-man teams dropped out amid concern about traveling during the pandemic, said Vickie Hutchinson, a hunt organizer and executive director of the Water for Wildlife Foundation.