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Three Persons, Tom

Tom Three Persons is perhaps best described as Alberta's most famous cowboy. Unfortunately most people in Alberta have never heard of him. We’re going to change that right now. Born in March 1888 to Ayakohtseniki, Double Talker, a Blood woman, his natural father was a white trader and bootlegger by the name of Fred Pace. When Pace left Ayakohtseniki prior to the birth of their son, she soon married Three Persons, a young widower (man who had lost his wife) from her tribe. Tom Three Persons was originally given the name Mutsi-i-kitstuki, or Handsome Offering, and baptized as Moses Three Persons but known to all as Tom. Tom spent his youth on the Blood Reserve as part of the Three Persons Family and never knew his natural father. He spoke only Blackfoot and became, by all accounts, an outgoing and athletic young man.

Throughout his life, Tom would prove himself to be a hard worker, an amazing rider, and an excellent business man. In 1907, after he lost the majority of his own cattle herd in the disastrous winter of 1906-07, he was hired as a cowboy for the fall roundup of government and Indian cattle. His skill as a roper so impressed his employers that he was considered one of the best men on theround-up that year. However, it was his riding abilities that most amazed his friends, who, by 1908, had convinced him to enter the bronc-busting competition at the Lethbridge Fair. An impressive second place finish launched his new career. For the next few years, Tom juggled rodeo competitions with life on the round-up, winning first place at the 1909 contest in Lethbridge. By 1911, Tom Three Persons had become recognized as one of the leading bronc riders in the West - "the famous Indian rider." In 1912 Guy Weadick, was looking to make money on the popularity of the rodeo. Weadick had convinced four southern ranchers to help him finance a stampede as a tribute to the Old West. The first ever Calgary Stampede attracted competitors from all over North America and was held in August 1912 at Calgary. At the end of the six day event, and in front of a very large and distinguished crowd, Three Persons became the only Canadian to win a top award. He was crowned the world's bucking horse champion, beating out many experienced American professionalcowboys.

Three Persons had been the only Canadian to achieve a championship in a major event at the Stampede and his victory made him an instant celebrity. He remained on the rodeo circuit for most of his life and became known as much for his drinking and partying as for his riding skill. Tom Three Persons inspired generations of Blood Indians to success in the rodeo arena.

"Let er Buck!"