The word is getting out on James Arviso. The young-gun team roping phenom, who just turned 19 on August 29 and hails from Seba Dalkai, Arizona, is already making headlines. In 2022, Arviso and Landen Glenn won both the Hooey Jr BFI Open and Jr Patriot Young Guns Open. Arviso, who also was the reserve champ at this year’s BFI heading for Josh Patton and roping against the big dogs, is the son of Jon and Jamie Arviso, who’s Derrick Begay’s big sister. In July, James and Cashton Weidenbener were crowned the National High School Rodeo Association team roping titlists.
Q: You come from a very close family, don’t you?
A: Yes ma’am, and it’s the best thing. My Grandpa Victor and Grandma Myrtle (Begay) live really close to us, so I grew up with three generations of my family spending a lot of time together.
Q: Can you remember when you started roping?
A: I’ve roped my whole life, but I started roping roping when I was 9 or 10. I roped goats quite a bit before I started roping steers. I didn’t get very good at roping steers until about my freshman year when I was about 14. Before that, I rode junior high bulls and thought I wanted to be a bull rider. But when high school came around, I didn’t want to get on the bigger bulls, so I started taking roping more seriously.
Q: How big a deal is team roping and rodeo in general on the Navajo Nation?
A: It’s probably the biggest thing. When you drive around the Navajo Nation, you see arenas left and right wherever you go. Guys take roping seriously out there. There are a lot of good ropers that couldn’t quite get away to rodeo. But they rope good enough. All of rodeo is big on the Navajo Nation.
Q: Who has had the greatest influence on your roping?
A: My Grandpa Victor. He’s always told me right from wrong, and he wasn’t scared to get after me when I needed it. He taught me to rope, just like he taught Uncle Derrick. He taught me so much about horsemanship, and how to handle a steer accordingly. You have to have a good horse to win, and Grandpa knows a lot about horses and what to do if one does this or that.
Q: What’s been your granddad’s most important advice?
A: He says a lot of smart stuff about all aspects of life. He tells me to “do you,” no matter what everybody else is doing. And that applies to anything. It’s alright to be different.
Q: It’s interesting that you and Derrick both head when Grandpa Victor heels.
A: Yeah, I can’t heel, and I like throwing my rope every time and being in control of a run (he’s an 8 header and 7+ heeler). I grew up getting to head for Grandpa, and he’s who I practice with and who’s taught me how to handle steers.
Q: Has there been one roper you’ve looked up to most?
A: Derrick, Aaron (Tsinigine) and Erich (Rogers). They’ve all come off of the Navajo Nation, and done great things. I know big things are possible, because they’ve proven it. It’s easy not to see beyond the walls, but when you look at them and see that they’ve gone places not a lot of people have gone, it shows us that it’s possible to have a successful career in rodeo.
Q: What do you consider your greatest roping achievement so far?
A: Winning second at the BFI (at the Lazy E Arena in April). That’s been my biggest and favorite win so far, because there were 150 of the best teams ever at such a big roping.
Q: What was it like last December watching Uncle Derrick ride your horse at the NFR?
A: It was very nerve-racking. I wanted her to do good for him, and for him to win.
Q: You have two good horses, huh?
A: Yes, I don’t have a best horse. They’re both great, and they have very different personalities and traits that make them great. My buckskin mare, Keta—that Derrick rode at the Finals—came from Colter Todd. Keta’s wild. She loves to run, and she’s more watchy on the ground. But she scores great, runs and gives it 110 every single time, then faces really fast. My bay mare, Rihanna, came from Erich Rogers. She’s more laid back. She scores good, and runs when she needs to, but she matches the steer’s speed. When we need to go faster, she sets it up for me to throw faster. I would ride either of them anywhere. I just go by feel on which horse to ride.
Q: What are your roping goals?
A: To be the best I can be, and do the best I can. Winning will come around if I work hard enough and do all the right steps.
Q: When do you plan to hit it hard?
A: I’m planning on 2024 being my rookie year. I think that’ll be the year I try it out. I’ll be done with my first year of college (at Ranger College in Stephenville, Texas, where he’s a freshman this fall), and I’m going to try to get the rodeoing thing figured out a little first and rope at the amateur rodeos, so I can go on to the next level and be successful.