In the mid-1950s, seven cowboys from Kainai Reserve in Stand Off, Alberta — Rufus Goodstriker, Floyd and Frank Many Fingers, Ken and Tuffy Tailfeathers, and Fred and Horace Gladstone — formed the Lazy-B 70 Rodeo Club on the reserve. As dissatisfaction grew among Native people over unfair judges and timekeepers, Patty Rattlesnake, from the Ermineskin Reserve in Hobbema, Alberta, proposed to Rufus Goodstriker that an all-Native rodeo association be formed. In 1962, the executive of the Lazy-B 70 Club formed the All Indian Rodeo Cowboys Association (AIRCA) for Treaty Indians.
In 1967, the AIRCA changed its name to the Indian Rodeo Cowboys Association (IRCA), and a new executive was formed with board members from different regions in the province. The association also expanded its membership to allow non-Treaty Indians and Métis cowboys from other provinces and the United States to join. In 1969, the IRCA hosted its first International Rodeo Finals in Lethbridge, Alberta.
British Columbia cowboys were the first to separate from the IRCA and establish their own assocation, the British Columbia Indian Rodeo Association (BCIRA). In 1981, the Western Indian Rodeo and Exhibition Association (WIREA) was incorporated through the efforts of the BCIRA board of directors. Today, there are five Native Plains and Plateau rodeo associations in Canada.
In the United States, the first Native rodeo associations were also established in the 1950s and, as in Canada, a number of associations were organized between the late 1970s and 1980s. There are now over 20 Native Plains and Plateau rodeo associations in the United States, the largest ones being in the Southwest.