NMSU Native American studies professor rides in historic event for queen of England

Donald Pepion, a college professor in the Department of Anthropology at New Mexico State University, performs on horseback for Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle during the Diamond Jubilee Pageant May 10-13. (Courtesy photo)

Visitors celebrate monarch’s milestone

New Mexico State University

A New Mexico State University professor who teaches Native American studies in the anthropology department recently participated in an international tribute honoring Queen Elizabeth II. As part of a Native American delegation, Donald Pepion performed on horseback for the queen during her Diamond Jubilee pageant. He also briefly met the queen and enjoyed tea and crumpets at Windsor Castle.

The pageant is part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, a celebration marking her 60-year reign. The equestrian-themed event featured over 500 horses and more than 800 performers from around the globe who paid tribute to the monarchy.

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“Our U.S.A. group had a wild west theme with cowboys and Indians performing,” said Pepion, a college professor in the College of Arts and Sciences. “Our Native American group had two of us riding horses around the arena, while nine others danced contemporary social dancing.”

Despite the inclement weather, Pepion and his group performed nightly wearing Native American dress in the pageant’s stadium from May 10-13. Prior to a performance, Pepion, along with other performers, had the opportunity to meet the queen at a tea party hosted by Windsor Castle.

“She shook my hand and asked if we were participating in the pageant,” Pepion said. “I told her about the women who were dancing and the two of us riding. She then asked where we were from.”

International pageant participants included Baffin Island Inuit, Brazilian horsemen, Russian Cossack riders, as well as African groups such as Masai and Zulu. There were also large groups from Mexico, Italy and other countries.

“It was a good opportunity to interact and visit with the other cultures,” Pepion said. “The Australian Aborigines share our experiences with colonization. The Africans and Native Americans were interested in each other’s beadwork.”

Pepion also had the honor of meeting the Princess Royal, who is previously known as Princess Anne.

“She was friendly, and shushed me and pointed to the Canadian Mounty next to me when I told her our people, Blackfeet, were in Canada and the U.S.,” Pepion said.

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