Kiva James Lindaman keeps the glitz and glamour of vintage cowgirl fashions alive while serving her Arizona community with a smile.
By L.A Sokolowski-Pomeroy
If Ginger Rogers did everything dancer Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels, then Dale Evans rode and roped as well as her Western films co-star Roy Rogers, only in fringed skirts and fancier boots. Dale embodied the image of the American cowgirl, with one hand confidently on the reins and flashing a smile as bright any of her seamlessly tailored, embroidered outfits.
But if you think old-school Hollywood glamor and horsemanship are too tall a set of boots to fill today, you haven’t met Scottsdale, Arizona, horsewoman Kiva James Lindaman, president of the Cowgirls Historical Foundation.
The former roper, team penner and pro rodeo queen doesn’t just preserve the spirit and style of the American cowgirl through charitable works in the community; she does all of that while actually wearing (among others) Dale Evans’ very own turquoise-blue suit.
Kiva, 34, was in a saddle before she was in kindergarten. Her dream of becoming a cowgirl spurred her to join 4-H and go for the “glitz and glamor” of showing horses, which led to six qualifying trips to the Arizona State Fair and a slew of state Western riding championships.
After the trophies came the tiaras. Kiva entered rodeo queen pageants and earned several crowns, including one she still calls dearest to her heart—2001 Flagstaff Pine Country Pro Rodeo Queen —and she served on the board of her rodeo association while attending Northern Arizona University.
For the past seven years, the little girl who dreamed of growing up to be a cowgirl has presided over the Cowgirls Historical Foundation, a collection of “women of accomplishment” who volunteer as Western heritage ambassadors, perform as drill team riders and trick ropers while raising funds and awareness for social causes, and do so while curating some of the most extraordinary vintage fashions ever worn over the last half-century by American cowgirls and sweethearts of the rodeo.
“Hundreds of service hours are invested each year in community service,” Kiva said, explaining the CHF mission. “Linking up to assist associations with fashion shows, auctions, skits and education programs to benefit a community is a great honor.”
CHF Cowgirls have ridden in eight Rose Bowl Parades, earned a Community Hero Award from the Veterans Medical Leadership Council, and performed for the benefit of literacy and educational programs including the Special Olympics, National Day of the Cowboy, Kicking Up Kindness Buckaroo Ball, Debby Gaby’s Catwalk for Charity, Florence Crittenton’s Team Up for Girls Luncheon, the Phoenix Fire Department and Phoenix Suns Charities.
This spring, they will partner with Scottsdale’s Museum of the West for its second annual Vintage Vogue Fashion Show, and perform at the 54th Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo, sanctioned by the Grand Canyon Pro Rodeo Association, at the Apache Junction Rodeo Park in Arizona.
“My driving force is seeing what CHF can bring to people from all walks of life,” Kiva said. “Now, more than ever, there is a lack of appreciation for farming, agriculture and our Western heritage.
“There’s a disconnect from ‘farm to table.’ I don’t think there is enough awareness of how food gets to supermarkets and the importance these industries have in our lives. Recreational horse sports are also born from these industries, so it’s important to celebrate this and educate people.”
The calling is near and dear to Kiva’s heart.
“People who serve others end up serving themselves with a more content and happier heart,” she said. “Being a cowgirl is a pure way of life. We have strong values. We love our families, our animals and this land.”
This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Spring 2018 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.